Please give a short psychological profile of Jig in "Hills Like White Elephants."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It is important that we understand and do not underestimate the pressure that Jig is facing and is placed under by her lover. Part of the greatness of this short story is the fact that so much of what is going on is narrated through dialogue. The narrator stays removed and distant, preferring to narrate just the conversation that he hears with very little other input, leaving the reader to discern what precisely is going on and what kind of characters we are dealing with.

If we read carefully, however, we can see that this short story is all about abortion. Jig is pregnant with her lover's baby. He wants her to get an abortion. If she doesn't, she will lose him. Note the reference made to the "awfully simple operation" as the American tries to manipulate and persuade her into having this operation. We are not given a definite answer as to what Jig has decided at the end of the tale, or if she has actually come to any conclusions. However, her negative speech towards the end of the tale with the repetition of phrases like "No we can't," suggest that she is deeply unhappy with both of the possibilities in front of her. In spite of all the promises of the American, she remains unconvinced that things will occur as the American promises. Her fear, frustration and complete indecision is perhaps summarised when she threatens to scream if her lover will not stop talking about it. Given the psychological pressure and disturbance she is under, we recognise her last words to be a complete lie, designed to disguise how she is feeling from a lover who is clearly selfishly imposing his own will:

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

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial