How does Hemingway, the author of "Hills Like White Elephant," create a view of the female character Jig as naive or innocent using language.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To be naive can mean to lack worldly experience or to have a simple, unaffected nature with no artificiality. The female character in Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants" would fit the second meaning of having a simple, unaffected, open nature. She shows she is experienced in worldly matters when she says "So have I..." to her companions comment that he has known lots of people who have had the "simple operation."

To be innocent, in this context, is like naivete. An innocent person is guileless and ingenuous, having no deceit. Being naive and innocent is very different from being stupid. Stupidity is not having quick intelligence, being slow to perceive things, being dull in cognitive processes and personality. Jig certainly doesn't show signs of being stupid.

Examples of language that set Jig up as innocent and naive, as defined above, are found in two early lines. Jig very breezily and simplistically says, "What should we drink?" Later she says about the bead curtain, '"They’ve painted something on it," she said. "What does it say?"' These direct uncomplicated statements show a simple, unaffected, open nature precisely because they are direct and uncomplicated. In addition, the decide, but also simple, action that accompanies the first dispels the notion of stupidity: "She had taken off her hat and put it on the table."

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Hills Like White Elephants

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