Hills Like White Elephants Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

Hills Like White Elephants book cover
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In Hills Like White Elephants, are both characters static, and is there indirect characterization?

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As with most of Hemingway's work, there is much indirect characterization and plot progression in his story "Hills Like White Elephants." This operates on what Hemingway calls—and what many critics call—the Iceberg Theory; the idea is that the majority of the significance and meaning of a story is hidden, much like an iceberg, underneath the surface.

The characters are active throughout the story, but they are seemingly static. Hemingway sort of straddles the line between nothingness and significant action. After discussing seemingly trivial things, such as the hills looking like elephants, and the name of the drink they're trying, the girl says:

"I wanted to try this new drink: That's all we do, isn't it—look at things and try new drinks?"

They are, in a sense, static, because of the great unimportance of their dialogue. Of course, this quickly changes, and Hemingway unloads a heavy plot point upon the reader. Through discretion and indirect speech, it is revealed that the couple plan...

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