What is a good question to ask when preparing to write a paper about the short story "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway? 

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One way to approach this story is to ask what the meaning of the title is. Jig compares the hills around her and her boyfriend to white elephants, but the meaning of her comparison runs deeper than just this surface remark. Some readers note that she will herself look like the hills if she goes forward with her pregnancy. The hills may also stand for the hurdles that lie before her and her boyfriend as they face questions about how to deal with their relationship and with her pregnancy.

When you are examining the meaning of the hills in the title, you might also consider other elements of the story that have a deeper, more symbolic meaning. For example, what is the meaning of the railroad station and the two tracks that lie in front of the main characters? How do they symbolize the different choices and paths open to them? By considering the meanings of these symbols, you can come up with a main idea about the meaning of the story and begin writing your paper.

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In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," most of the narrative bubbles below the surface of the actual writing, and it takes a thoughtful and insightful question to bring this bounty of meaning to the surface.

Though I can't write your paper for you, I can give you some direction. If I were writing the paper about this short story, I would ask the following question: "What is the essence of the relationship between the man and the woman in the story?" This question is vital to a proper analysis of the narrative, as much of the tension relies upon the relationship between the man and the woman (named "Jig"). While the man wants the woman to get an abortion, the woman seems reluctant to go through with the operation, and a fundamental tension in the relationship is revealed: the man seems to want nothing to do with the responsibility involved in having a family, while the woman appears to to see some benefit in settling down and sobering up. This contrast is central to the story and so, as you prepare to write your paper, it's important that you ask questions about the nature of the man and the woman's relationship.  

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