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What is the conflict in "Hills Like White Elephants?"

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rhea314 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:30 PM via web

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What is the conflict in "Hills Like White Elephants?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:33 PM (Answer #1)

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One of the most basic conflicts present in the Hemingway short story is how two people balance the demands of their own needs with the realities of their relationship.  I think that Hemingway draws out a situation that is gender driven in that the man and the woman hold a difference of opinion about both the pregnancy and their own relationship.  Yet, there is a larger conflict present in terms of how a relationship can make demands on personal freedom.  Both characters struggle with the reality of the shared relationship, but also with the basic idea of how their own individual freedom is exacted by the constraints of their relationship.  Jig constantly finds her own voice is subjugated by the realities of their "happiness."  The idea of what will be best for their relationship must drive what happens to both of them.  The American keeps on saying to Jig that whatever "she" wants is fine.  Yet, in the end, the reality is that while their own freedom and independence is present, both understand their relationship is there and demands their attention.  The interesting thing is that Jig seems resigned to the fact that the relationship will swallow her own freedom and she accepts this at the end, while studying the hills ahead of her.

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rhea314 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:57 PM (Answer #2)

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" Hills LIke White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway

The conflict faced by the main characters is the unexpected pregnancy.

the American point of view single and in his prime, he makes the most of his lifestyle by traveling and seeing new sights. The story is set on one such excursion, at a train station in Spain. Of the complications that might arise from starting a family, one is certain to him: traveling, sight-seeing, and his current lifestyle would be things of the past. These are some of his motivating thoughts as he pleads his case for terminating the pregnancy. He chooses his words advantageously

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