What is Hills like White Elephants about? I read it today for my class and I had a hard time understanding its theme.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, I think that there is going to be complexity in trying to understand Hemingway's short story.  On the surface, it is about a couple having a discussion about a medical procedure, presumably an abortion.  From this point, I think that the story is about how couples have challenges navigating choices and their consequences and how progression in any relationship is difficult.  The story is about the emotional nuances that exist between people, that emotional space that exists within a couple.  The manner in which Hemingway has written the story as one of dialogue, and one in which there is little in way of resolution helps to bring out how challenging relationships can be.  It is here where the story is at its strongest.  There is no clear "winner" in this setting and there is no clear ending to it.  In this light, the story is not about delivering the reader to a destination, but rather in exploring how the journey that couples take is almost as important as the destination, perhaps even more important. The storys' basic idea of exploring how couples can and do communicate with one another is powerful.  It is here where I think that the emotional theme is the most relevant.

Read the study guide:
Hills Like White Elephants

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question