How can you analyze "Hills Like White Elephants" from a feminist point of view?

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From a feminist point of view, Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" supports gender norms, specifically the gender norm of female weakness, in several ways. Although it is true that Jig wants to discuss her pregnancy more than the man and could be seen as braver because of that, Jig's continual questioning and signs of reliance on the American man demonstrate a sense of female dependence and subservience. This dependence is what ultimately supports traditional gender roles in the story, rather than challenging them.

Jig's questioning of her companion shows a lack of confidence. Even when ordering drinks, she relies on the man to know the details and complete the order. When they make conversation, she looks to him for affirmation and compliments when she asks questions such as, "Wasn't that bright?" Likewise, she speaks about herself in demeaning ways in a seeming test of support from him. She says, "I don't care about me" several times to elicit a reaction from him.

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Hemingway is known for masculine, heroic characters and these characters tend to dominate his stories. In this story, Jig, is more of a hero(ine) than the male narrator. This has nothing to do with a debate on abortion. She is more of a hero because she is the only one brave enough (dare we say “man enough”) to face the consequences of the pregnancy and she is the only one willing to take the difficult path and abandon their itinerant life of partying and traveling. The man persuades her to have the abortion but then leaves the burden of the decision entirely up to her. She is righteous in confronting the problem head on. He is passive aggressive and cowardly.

Additionally, in either scenario (keeping or losing the baby), she is the one who must live more intimately with the consequences. From a feminist point of view, she is the more responsible, stronger and braver character of the two.

 

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