In "Hills Like White Elephants" how does Hemingway use dialogue to display the emotions of the characters in the story?  Elephant in the room?

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chicagorilke23 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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The dialogue in "Hills Like White Elephants" is almost as short as the phrase, "The elephant in the room." The dialogue is short and to the point but actually does not provide much information in terms of who exactly the man and woman named Jig really are and of their relation to one another. Much like the woman's name suggests, the couple is doing a dance together through their dialogue but still remain on their own as they complete each move. They are not connected with one another as intimately as they would be if they were doing the tango. The couple is doing a jig verbally. The movements are quick and jumpy.

Through the dialogue there is a sense of some level of familiarity but not enough to gauge a true connection between the two. There is the awareness of an operation that is tossed around as being "simple" on the part of the man in the story. The woman on the other hand, seems to be working out something in her head as she comments on the hills resembling white elephants. Her attempts at conversation are blocked with the man's unwillingness to discuss "the elephant in the room."

Later, the couple's quick banter is met with Jig's cry of, "Can't we maybe stop talking?" Her request reveals her fear of the operation the man deems as "simple". Her request also gives an indication that she is at the mercy of the man in the story. While the man is not mean to Jig, the man's emotions come across as one who is just preoccupied. He is concerned with either the problem at hand or perhaps with how he may escape the problem by not becoming emotionally involved in the solution of it, as his short and lack of real conversation about Jig's feelings may suggest.

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