illustration of train tracks with low hills in the background and one of the hills has the outline of an elephant within it

Hills Like White Elephants

by Ernest Hemingway

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How would a woman in this story present the circumstances that happened in Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants"? A man is presenting the story, and I just want to know how a women would view its circumstances.

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This is a tricky question because, in a day of strides toward humanity as one instead of as divided into groups and sectors, it suggests that men and women authors have vastly different perspectives. Perhaps it might be better to ask "How would it be different if told by a non-minimalist and non-modernist?" Perhaps it would be better to ask "How would it be different if told by someone from the 21st century instead of from the 20th century?" or "... if by someone who had never experienced World War instead by someone who had?" or "... if by another man?"

Having said this, let's assume the woman telling the story is a minimalist and a modernist. Let's also assume that she'd have a reason and preference for telling the story from the focalization of Jig's point of view. Let's also assume that the facts of the story are as Hemingway reported them and that the location is the same; the woman serving them drinks is the same; the drinks are the same; the conversation and the movements are the same.

With these stipulations, a woman's version of the story would be equally devoid of expressions of emotions. Her version of the story would be equally fragmented in meaning. Her version of the story would be equally fragmented in regard to character personality. The reason for this is that the era producing the genres of minimalism and modernism fostered these perspectives.   

With these conditions in place, the opening would vary only in so far as to say, "The girl and the American man with her sat at a table in the shade." The last of the falling action of the narrative--which reports statements and actions without delving into private emotion or thoughts that go unrevealed in word, expression or deed--would undergo a significant change: the narrator would stay with Jig and report Jig's behavior and observations:

‘I’d better take the bags over to the other side of the station,’ the man said. She smiled at him.

‘All right. Then come back and we’ll finish the beer.’

He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the bar-room, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.

The original might become something like the following:

She watched him pick up the two heavy bags and carry them around the station toward the other tracks. She  looked into the distance along those tracks but her vision was blocked by the building behind which he carried the bags. Sitting alone, she looked again at the distant white hills, then stood and slowly walked toward the door and toyed with the beads covering it. She rubbed her hand across her forehead with her eyes clenched shut. She blinked into the white light then walked back over and resumed her seat in her chair. When he came back out through the bead curtain, she was sitting at the table and smiled at him.

This exercise demonstrates that it may be more true to consider differences produced by what genre and philosophical school of thought an author adheres to than to consider differences produced by gender, ethnic, or other groups.

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