Please point out what aspects of the plot, dialogue or technique mark this story "Hills Like White Elephants" as an example of Modernism.Like Faulkner's "Barn Burning" this story is an example...

Please point out what aspects of the plot, dialogue or technique mark this story "Hills Like White Elephants" as an example of Modernism.

Like Faulkner's "Barn Burning" this story is an example of Modernism, a literary movement, approximately from 1910-1941 that had the following four characteristics:
1) Fragmentation of plot and time
2) Social realism - depicting society as realistically as possible.
3) Breaking previous literary traditions - specifically Romanticism (19th Century)
4) Experimentation with language and technique.


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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In answering this question I would want to focus on the way in which Modernism sought new forms to try and mirror the fragmentation and uncertainty that characterised modern life following the shock of World War I. Out of the list you have provided of characteristics of Modernism, perhaps the most relevant is number four: experimentation with language and technique. What is remarkable about this excellent short story is the way that although the narrator is omniscient, the narrator deliberately distances himself as far away from the story as possible, only giving us the briefest of outlines. We are given no access into the thoughts or minds of either character. Rather, the narrator chooses to leave them to reveal themselves through their dialogue. We are left to pick up the pieces and infer what is going on.

The amount of dialogue in this story compared to narration is incredible, as often whole sections just report the conversation between Jig and her lover with no interruptions or other information given by the narrator. This again forces us as readers to read between the lines as we assess the disintegration that is occurring between the relationship of Jig and her lover.

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