How are the stories "What we Talk about When we Talk about Love" and "Hills Like White Elephants" different?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both stories deal with love, what love is, and what love isn't. The communication, or lack thereof, between the couples is the key to understanding the couples' relationships.

In "Hills Like White Elephants", the American man is obviously not in love with Jig. He's selfish and controlling, not only wanting Jig to have the abortion, but also wanting her to say that she wants it as well. Jig realizes that she has no guarantees that having the abortion will keep the American from leaving her. She wants guarantees, but his reassurances that he will stay with her are as empty as his reassurances about the abortion. The man is a liar who will probably leave her no matter what she does. Jig and the American are able to communicate their feelings, but he uses communication to manipulate Jig, trying to convince her how she should feel.

Terri and Mel have different problems in their relationship. I see their biggest problem as being an inability to communicate their true feelings. Mel's alcoholism leads him to become angry and threatening toward Terri, much like her ex-husband was. The two of them can't agree on what love is, and Mel sees love as being negative or positive, but not permanent. Mel and Terri use their conversation to hide their true feelings instead of to express their true feelings. What they don't say is as important as what they do say.

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