How can I use the lack of or the presence of names in "What We Talk About" and in "Hills Like White Elephants" to write an essay? Hemingway does not give his characters names....

How can I use the lack of or the presence of names in "What We Talk About" and in "Hills Like White Elephants" to write an essay?

Hemingway does not give his characters names. The couple can be anybody and the fact that they are nameless can indicate that the author did not want to take away from the beauty of their situation. He just uses the characters as tools to act out the story. The abortion is the conflict here, but it can also be seen as only the means to represent the universal differences between man and woman.

Mel, Theresa, Laura and Nick are the names Carver gave his characters in “What We Talk About." What they are talking about and what they are unable to communicate is only specific to these characters. Through figurative speech the author offers the reader insight into what they are really trying to talk about.

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lnorton eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The female character in "Hills" actually does have a name -- "Jig" -- but it is used very sparingly by the male, and it may be a nickname rather than a proper name. Hemingway chooses, however, to refer to her as "the girl" throughout the piece, which certainly supports the idea of a universal problem (and also stands in stark comparison to the fact that the male character is referred to as "the man" -- why is she only "a girl?") 

It will probably be important to note that her lover calls her by name, but that Hemingway chooses not to.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By not naming his characters in "Hills Like White Elephants," Hemingway makes their situation, and the thing they are unable to talk about, universal to everyone. However, I think you've done a pretty good job of presenting your argument in your comments above. Rather than focusing on the names, or lack thereof, you might use as your thesis the fact that each story contains an unspoken conversation that the ready is allowed to "hear" only through the thoughts and actions of the characters.

For help with writing a comparison/contrast essay, visit the link below.

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Hills Like White Elephants

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