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What happens in the story "Hills like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway?...

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sexymama1267 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 3, 2012 at 8:18 PM via web

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What happens in the story "Hills like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway?

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 25, 2012 at 10:13 PM (Answer #1)

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Very little actually happens in the story. What is important is the conflict that is going on between the man (called the American) and his young female companion (called "the girl" and sometimes "Jig). It comes out in their conversation that Jig is pregnant and that they are waiting at the junction outside a little saloon for the express train from Barcelona to take them to Madrid, where she has agreed under pressure from the man to have an abortion. The man obviously doesn't want to be tied down with a baby, and he obviously knows that Jig wants to have the baby. He is afraid she will change her mind and back out, so he keeps trying to convince her that the operation will be very simple and that everything will be the same between them after she has the abortion. She doesn't want to talk about it because she doesn't want to think about it. At one point she tries rather pathetically and desperately to persuade the man to agree to have the baby and to settle down and give up the nomadic life they have been leading. But she realizes the man is adamant, and finally she gives up resisting. Meanwhile the express train is fast approaching. The reader senses that their love relationship has been destroyed and that they will never be the same again. The girl has been thoroughly disillusioned about life and love. The man realizes that he is being a despicable person who doesn't deserve the love the girl has given him.

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