What do we know about the man and the girl's past life, and what has happened to the quality of their relationship?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The girl called "Jig" is clearly a fairly young lady, as she refers to the liquor she is drinking as tasting like licorice.  Her conversation with the older American man she is traveling with seems fairly routine and unmeaningful at first, but gradually drifts to the topic of an "operation" the man wishes her to have, and it becomes apparent this operation is an abortion.  He wants her to have one and she is resisting.  The fact that he calls her "Jig" is indicative of the lack of respect he apparently has for the young woman; her name is never given, and a "jig" can be a whiskey measurer, a fishing lure, or Irish dance.  At one time, it was a slang term for sex.   "That's all we do isn't it--look at things and try new drinks," Jig says at one point, suggesting that she's not particularly enjoying this nomadic lifestyle much anymore, but eventually she agrees to the operation, announces that she's fine, and the story ends.

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Hills Like White Elephants

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