In "White Hills Like Elephants," how does Hemingway's style serve to establish the tone of each speaker?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a story told entirely in dialogue, Hemingway's characters' feelings are revealed only through their tightly controlled, edgy conversation. Consequently, there is a certain ambiguity as to the meanings of some of the remarks made and those things not said that the injection of an omniscient narrator would explain.

For instance, when "the man" tells Jig, "It's really an awfully simple operation, Jig,...It's not really an operation at all," his suggestion of an abortion is lacking in sentiment as is Hemingway's use of "the man" to name and describe him. In another instance, Jig's reply to the American's remarks that the world is theirs and they can have it are rather dejected, but controlled,

"No, it isn't.  And once they take it away, you never get it back."

"But they haven't taken it away."

"We'll wait and see."

Thus, the clipped dialogue and edgy tone indicate that the carefree, happy relationship between Jig and the American has been destroyed by the nonchalant view of abortion that the man possesses and his lack of feeling as he mentions it. 

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Hills Like White Elephants

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