What is your overall reaction about the relationship between The American and Jig in "Hills Like White Elephants"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Ernest Hemingway's short story, "Hills Like White Elephants," the American and Jig seems very removed from one another.  Jig expresses this alienation as she says,

That's all we do--isn't it?  Look at things and try new drinks

That they are alienated is also indicated by Hemingway's use of "the girl" for Jigs and "the American" for the young man who wants the young woman to abort the baby that will just be in the way of any enjoyment.  Their separation from one another is also indicated by the railroad tracks which divide the barren expanse of land from the fertile farmland on the side.  The story is almost entirely composed of the dialogue of the American and the girl, a cursive dialogue that traverses no side like the train tracks do:  One on one side, one on the other--parallel for miles, never to intersect. Their dialogue even rings like the repetitive sound of the train's metal wheels upon the rails: 

"We can have everything."

"No, we can't." 

"We can have the whole world."

"No, we can't."

"We can go everywhere."

"No, we can't.  It isn't ours any more."

Read the study guide:
Hills Like White Elephants

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