In the short story "Hills Like White Elephants" the woman says: "And we could have everything and every day we make it impossible." What does she mean by this?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the biography, Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences, James R. Mellow suggests that all of Hemingway's stories had a basis in the writer's life. At the time he was writing "Hills Like White Elephants" he was having an affair with Pauline Pfeiffer and in the midst of a break-up with his first wife Hadley. Mellow writes that during their last trip together in Spain, Hemingway suspected Hadley was pregnant. This may have provided the basis for the story. If that's the case, the comment by Jig, "And we could have everything and every day we it make more impossible" may have been a direct reflection on Hemingway's idea that his life with Hadley had been idyllic but was coming to an end. They had spent Hemingway's formative years as a writer together and Hemingway dedicated his first novel to Hadley and his first son, Bumby. Hemingway also wrote fondly of their relationship in his memoir about Paris, A Moveable Feast.

In the short story, the man and Jig are verbally dancing around whether she will have an abortion or not. She is generally compliant with what he wants, even taking back her statement about the hills looking like white elephants. But, in this comment, she seems to be indicating that there is nothing left for her and the man. They could have "everything," each other and a baby, but since the man is eager for her to abort they have nothing left that can sustain the relationship. While Hemingway is ambiguous about the final decision of the woman, the reader could posit that the relationship is at an end. 

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Hills Like White Elephants

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