In "Hills Like White Elephants", what can we infer about the girl's comment that the American wouldn't have seen a white elephant? Could someone help me with this please?  thanks Joelle

Expert Answers

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

In Hemingway's story the dialogue goes like this:

"They look like white elephants," she said.

"I've never seen one," the man drank his beer.

"No, you wouldn't have."

There is a great deal of significance in this interchange, as there usually is in Hemingway's dialogue. The man wants to avoid that line of conversation. He is in no mood to be talking about the scenery. He wants to talk about the very serious problem they are both facing, and he especially wants to keep Jig persuaded to go ahead with the abortion. This seems indicated by the fact that he says, "I've never seen one" and immediately drinks his beer. The two sentences are separated by a comma rather than a period. It is a stupid, thoughtless, even rude reply to Jig's observation that the hills look like white elephants. Jig has never seen a white elephant either. Few people have ever seen an albino elephant. The man''s reply seems to suggest that he thinks Jig has actually seen a white elephant, when he should know she is only...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 650 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team