While the characters are fictionalized, there is also evidence that the man and the woman are largely Hemingway and second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. The relationship was troubled, and the abortion theme may well have been Hemingway's attempt to work through feelings about the threats to their relationship.
The "threat" came in the form of his first wife, Hadley. Paul P. Reuben says, "In early 1925, the Hemingways met Pauline Pfeiffer, a fashion editor for Vogue magazine. She was intrigued greatly by Ernest and his writing and soon began spending a great deal of time with the family. By mid 1927, it became apparent, however, that the feelings between Pauline and Ernest were more than friendly and, after several months of fighting, Hadley set up a separate residence in Paris. Hadley made an agreement that if Ernest and Pauline could stay apart for one hundred days and were still in love after, she would grant a divorce so the two could be together. Pauline immediately left for the States. It is during these hundred days that Hemingway wrote most of the short story collection Men without Women.
Thinking about the story as fiction, it is the general consensus that the couple are representational of many young people of the "lost generation." As for the fate of the child, David Wyche writes about the scholary disagreement concerning its fate: "Timothy O'Brien sees the "outcome of the couple's journey" as "bleak and infertile" (19). Their destination of Madrid--ironic because of the name's similarity to madre, the Spanish word for mother--will be "the site of the artificial intervention advocated by the male" (23). Kenneth Johnston interprets the cloud shadow that Jig sees moving over the fertile grain field as "foreshadowing the death of her unborn child" (235). Thomas Maher Gilligan suggests that the shifting of baggage from one side of the station to the other indicates that "the couple reconsiders, decides to go to Barcelona instead, and also decides to allow the pregnancy to continue."