In Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," to what extent do they give open expression to their feelings?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

‘If I do it you won’t ever worry?’

‘I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple.’

‘Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I don’t care about me.’

‘Well, I care about you.’

‘Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.’

‘I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.’

It might easily be argued that neither the American man nor Jig give any open expression to their feelings, as in the excerpt above. They both evade, feign, and falsify their expressions of their feelings, while on occasion also using sarcasm, as when Jig says: ‘And afterwards they were all so happy.’

The easiest type of expression to see is when Jig overtly tries to evade further talking about the operation and related feelings. Jig clearly evades by saying:

'Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?’

At one point, in a moment of a sort of absent-minded reverie, Jig honestly says, more to herself than to the man, that everyday it becomes more impossible for them to have their dream of love and happiness:

‘And we could have all this,’ she said. ‘And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.’

While her remark leads to an exchange between them, it characteristically ends with Jig's evasive, ‘We’ll wait and see.’

Shortly after, the man does a good job of seeming to falsify his feelings then following up with feigning a rationalized expression of his other feelings: he doesn't give direct and honest report of his feelings:

‘Doesn’t it mean anything to you? ...'

‘Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. ....'

Read the study guide:
Hills Like White Elephants

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