What do the images lilke the bead-curtain, white hills, dry plains, etc., convey about the incident in the short story?  Mainly the subjective uses of the imagery.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most interesting and most touching image in the story has to do with the bead-curtain. At one point Jig reaches out and rolls a couple of these wooden beads back and forth between her fingers. It is obvious that she is reminded of the wooden beads that are so common on infants' cribs, play-pens, strollers, and toys. The poor girl is thinking how much she would enjoy having a baby and doing all the things that mothers do with their babies.

The landscape is desolate. It seems to symbolize the isolation of these two people in an enormous, indifferent cosmos. In a few minutes they will board the train and leave--but the landscape will remain here for millions of years after their little drama has been forgotten, just as it had been there for millions of years before they passed through. They are just a man and a woman having a baby--or not having a baby. I am reminded of Adam and Eve getting evicted from paradise.

Jig doesn't really care about the hills. She is just trying to make conversation. That has been her function and concern since the beginning of their relationship. She loves the man and wants to keep his interest and his love. She will do whatever he wants. What he wants from her is to be a bright and cheerful companion. These qualities were what attracted him to her in the first place.


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Hills Like White Elephants

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