What is the relationship between the two main characters? Does the reoccurring description of parallel lines have anything to do with it?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two main characters have been together for a while, and Jig has told him she's pregnant. The man isn't honest with Jig because he says an abortion is her choice, but it really isn't. He comes off as being supportive and reasonable, but Jig knows he wants her to have an abortion. The man is selfish, wanting nothing, especially a baby, to interfere with his life. He doesn't really love Jig, and he basically tells Jig if she keeps the baby, he won't stay around. Jig is aware of the man's dishonesty with her and his true feelings about the abortion. She knows there are no guarantees that the man will stay even if she has an abortion.

The setting is an important symbol. The railway station where it takes place is located "between two lines of rails in the sun" (parallel lines). The land on either side of the station represents the choice Jig is faced with. The greenery of the trees on one side suggests fertility and keeping the baby. The other side is barren and empty just like Jig would be if she has the abortion. The hills that remind Jig of white elephants represent the relationship of the couple. A white elephant is something that is there but isn't really talked about. The topic of their converstation is the abortion, and Jig is trying to be honest about how she feels. The man, however, is trying to con Jig into seeing things his way.

Read the study guide:
Hills Like White Elephants

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