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What would the couple in “Hills Like White Elephants” do after getting on the...

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tramle12345 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 25, 2013 at 11:57 AM via web

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What would the couple in “Hills Like White Elephants” do after getting on the train? 


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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM (Answer #1)

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Prior to getting on the train at the end of the story, the couple argue about whether or not Jig should have an abortion. The American is quite persistent and falsely understanding; he continues to emphasize that the procedure is quite simple but also, when Jig reveals dubious feelings, he says that he would support her no matter what her decision might be. But he clearly wants her to have the procedure. By the time the train comes, Jig has had enough of his duplicitous argumentation (saying it is a simple procedure and then saying he doesn't care either way). She pleads with him: 

"Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?" 

The American wants Jig to have the procedure so they can continue on with their casual life. He can not or refuses to consider the emotional impact the procedure might have and therefore, when they board the train, he might continue to be relentless in arguing his point. He thinks Jig is being unreasonable. However, by this point, the matter might be settled. Having asked him to stop talking, Jig might have quietly accepted that the American will not relent until she agrees to have the abortion. The story ends with Jig seemingly accepting this: 

"I feel fine," she said. "There's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine." 

This leaves the reader with the indication that Jig likely will go through with the abortion, but that their casual lifestyle will not be the same and not as carefree because Jig could feel differently after the procedure: about her life and about her new understanding of how selfish the American can be. 

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