How can I rewrite the end of "Hills Like White Elephants" from the right point of view of the woman?

Expert Answers

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If you want to rewrite this story with a point of view sympathetic to the woman's perspective, you might use one of two methods. You might write it in first person with Jig speaking and narrating or you might write it in limited third person with the focalization focused on Jig.

One note first, while it is sometimes said that Hemingway writes this story from a limited third person point of view focalized through the man's perspective, a close reading reveals that Hemingway writes from the point of view of an omniscient narrator

'I realize,’ the girl said. ‘Can’t we maybe stop talking?’
They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.
‘You’ve got to realize,’ he said, ‘ that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to.

This omniscient narrator objectively reports equally about the woman and the man, while periodically focalizing through one or the other. In addition, this omniscient narrator reports only words and actions; no thoughts, feelings, or motivations are reported. It is in part this restriction to reporting only words and actions that may make it appear that the narrator is limited third person focalizing through the man.

To rewrite the ending from Jig's point of view, you will need to focus on the woman and stay with her instead of following the man to the other side of the station. Instead of going with the man into the "bar-room," where he drinks another Anis alone (probably without water), and examines the others waiting "reasonably for the train," you will stay out of doors with Jig and report whatever she does or says. She watches him walk away. Does she stay in her chair? Does she sob silently, then repress tears? Does she walk again to the end of the station and contemplate the scenic flow of the Ebro? Does she hurry back to her seat when she thinks he might be approaching? Does she remain seated the whole time?

You can tell it as first person, for example: "I watched him go round the corner of the station. I sat where I was and looked at the empty train tracks. ... I smiled at him. He asked me, "Do you feel better?"

Or you can tell it as limited third person, for example: "She looked away as he picked up the bags covered with travel labels. The white hills caught the sun. ... He asked, "Do you feel better?"

The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. ‘The train comes in five minutes,’ she said.
‘What did she say?’ asked the girl.
‘That the train is coming in five minutes.’
The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.
‘I’d better take the bags over to the other side of the station,’ the man said. She smiled at him.
‘All right. Then come back and we’ll finish the beer.’
He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the bar-room, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.
‘Do you feel better?’ he asked.
‘I feel fine,’ she said. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.’

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