What would the couple in “Hills Like White Elephants” do after getting on the train?  Answer question. 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Prior to getting on the train at the end of the story, the couple argue about whether or not Jig should have an abortion. The American is quite persistent and falsely understanding; he continues to emphasize that the procedure is quite simple but also, when Jig reveals dubious feelings, he says that he would support her no matter what her decision might be. But he clearly wants her to have the procedure. By the time the train comes, Jig has had enough of his duplicitous argumentation (saying it is a simple procedure and then saying he doesn't care either way). She pleads with him: 

"Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?" 

The American wants Jig to have the procedure so they can continue on with their casual life. He can not or refuses to consider the emotional impact the procedure might have and therefore, when they board the train, he might continue to be relentless in arguing his point. He thinks Jig is being unreasonable. However, by this point, the matter might be settled. Having asked him to stop talking, Jig might have quietly accepted that the American will not relent until she agrees to have the abortion. The story ends with Jig seemingly accepting this: 

"I feel fine," she said. "There's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine." 

This leaves the reader with the indication that Jig likely will go through with the abortion, but that their casual lifestyle will not be the same and not as carefree because Jig could feel differently after the procedure: about her life and about her new understanding of how selfish the American can be. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants," much of the meaning comes from what is not said. After their conversation at a table outside the train station, the man and the woman are markedly changed emotionally, and their relationship will never be as it has been before they arrived. When they take their places on the train, they probably will speak little and will be lost in their own thoughts as they look out the train's windows, without really seeing anything.

As a result of the dialogue that the couple has had at the station, a certain warmth has been lost. Jig realizes the selfishness of her lover, as his desire to have all her attention and love and retain their more carefree lifestyle drives his request for her to have an abortion. That he cares nothing for this unborn child who is a part of him is disturbing. This realization is why Jig responds to the man's statement, "We can have the whole world . . . [and] go everywhere," by declaring, "No, we can't. It isn't ours any more. . . . once they take it away, you never get it back." Spontaneity and warmth are gone from their relationship. An emotional and psychological divide has come between the man and Jig. She has decided to consent to the abortion, declaring "There's nothing wrong with me," but there is now the sense that their relationship is doomed when a fetus that is the blossom of their love will be terminated.

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Hills Like White Elephants

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