In "Hills Like White Elephants," how does Hemingway use simple, direct language to create a detached tone in his narrative?
The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies.The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went on to Madrid.
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You have identified a key aspect to Hemmingway's tone in writing that is very distinctive. Certainly his detached tone is incredibly important in this story, as part of its sheer brilliance is the way that Hemmingway as the omniscient narrator withdraws completely from the action and allows us to see the characters for who they are mostly through their dialogue, rather than through their actions. This is a distinguishing feature of this great short story - very few other texts have such a high ratio of dialogue to description.
The description you have quoted is one of the largest sections of description that Hemmingway gives us, but even in this note how the narrator is incredibly factual and just reports what he sees in a very objective fashion, attaching no emotions to the scene he creates, allowing the reader themselves to populate the story with the emotions that they will infer from the dialogue between Jig and her partner. Note too the short sentences that help contribute to the factual tone.
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