How is the American man manipulative and selfish in "Hills Like White Elephants"?

The man in this story is manipulative and selfish because he takes no interest in understanding the woman's point of view. The abortion probably needs to be discussed, but the man only wants to persuade or manipulate her to go through with the operation.

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In Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants ," the American man is selfish because he has no interest in understanding the woman's point of view. The abortion probably needs to be discussed, and one could claim that by pointing out that the hills look like white elephants, the woman is...

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In Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," the American man is selfish because he has no interest in understanding the woman's point of view. The abortion probably needs to be discussed, and one could claim that by pointing out that the hills look like white elephants, the woman is just trying to avoid the subject, but the man's only objective is to persuade or manipulate her to go through with the operation.

"You've got to realize," he said, "that I don't want you to do it if you don't want to. I'm perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you."

"Doesn't it mean anything to you? We could get long."

"Of course it does. But I don't want anybody but you. I don't want anybody else."

The woman has to make a show of anger before he finally admits his true feelings.

"Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?"

He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.

"But I don't want to," he said, "I don't care anything about it."

It is at this point the reader can fully understand the woman's point of view. She knows that the abortion will mean the end of their relationship and that she will probably have nowhere to go. From this short story, for example, the reader can see that the woman relies on the man to order the beer in Spanish and know that the train is coming in five minutes. How would she cope alone in what is apparently an alien culture?

From this perspective, the man's attempted manipulation of the woman is odious. He holds all the power in the relationship and can afford to think that only his opinion and view on life matters. It seems that as far as he and only he is concerned, one should always be in control of themselves. At the end of the story, he states that the other people "were all waiting reasonably for the train."

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Much of “Hills Like White Elephants” consists of dialogue between the man and the woman. What makes this particularly remarkable is that the woman repeatedly insists that she does not want to talk to the man—she eventually goes so far as to ask him if he would “please please please please please please please stop talking?” But the man persists, ignoring her needs as he often does in the story.

Throughout the story, the man only has one objective, which is to persuade the woman to agree to an abortion (although this is never explicitly stated, it is strongly implied). When, in the opening moments of the story, she tries to discuss the scenery, he is withdrawn and refuses to engage. He ignores what is interesting to her and pushes the conversation to a topic that she does not want to discuss. What makes this behavior even more selfish and manipulative is that he first frames it around her desire and their wellbeing as a couple:

If you don't want to you don't have to. I wouldn't have you do it if you didn't want to. But I know it's perfectly simple.

Later, the man switches tactics, trying to draw sympathy as the victim of the situation, telling her that it will help him to stop worrying if she will follow through and have the procedure. His behavior focuses on his needs to the point where he ignores even her most basic request: for silence.

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