What is the result of the couple's actions and who is affected most and why?What is the result of the couple's actions and who is affected most and why?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway purposely leaves the final decision the characters make open to interpretation. However, he also gives clues about on result. During their conversation, it becomes apparent that Jig wants to have the baby and the American does not.He tells her the abortion is "really an awfully simple operation, Jig. . . . It’s not really an operation at all.’’At this time abortion was not legal and some women died of the procedure. This shows the American's insensitivity. She longs to settle down after a nomadic life going from town to town. When she says that they “could have everything,” the man agrees. But for Jig, “everything” seems to include the baby. For the American, it means carefree life without the baby. The American wants things to stay the same as they have been. Jig realizes that things will never be the same. Since the woman is more perceptive about the truth of the situation, she seems to be affected the most. In fact, her frustration is uttered when she yells, “Will you please please please please please please please stop talking?” She knows that they have exhausted all the possibilities that talk can solve and they both want different things. It will be up to her to make the final decision.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that it is Jig who is affected much more than the American. Of course, the limited role of the narrator in this excellent short story means that we as readers have to infer a lot into the text to work out what is actually going on and the state of the relationship between these two characters. However, when we consider the repeated way that the American brings up the topic, until Jig has to threaten screaming to shut him up, we can see how he is oppressing her psychologically and mentally and manipulating her into doing what he wants, in spite of his protestations otherwise.

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Hills Like White Elephants

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