illustration of train tracks with low hills in the background and one of the hills has the outline of an elephant within it

Hills Like White Elephants

by Ernest Hemingway

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What is the plot and climax of "Hills Like White Elephants"?

Quick answer:

The man and woman are waiting at a train station in Zaragoza, Spain. The man wants the woman to have an operation because she has white elephants growing inside her. The Man and the Woman

Expert Answers

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A man and woman (Jig) are waiting at a train station in Zaragoza, Spain.  We can surmise that they are headed for Madrid from the text.  They drink beer and an Anis drink.  They note that the hills in the distance resemble white elephants.

The man begins to urge the woman to have an operation.  She tries to avoid the conversation by talking about the flavor of the drink, but the man is not amused.  The woman states that she will have the operation because she does not care about herself.  The man then tells her that if she has no other reason, she should not do it.

The woman begins to walk around and states that they could have the whole world.  The man disagrees, claiming that they cannot have what has already been taken from them.  He continues to try to urge her toward the operation and she finally asks him to "please please please please please please please" stop.

A server asks if they would like more to drink and tells them that the train is close.  The man asks the woman if all is OK and she states that she is just fine.

 It could be argued that the climax takes place when the woman asks the man to stop talking about operation because of the immediate break that follows.  On the other hand, it could also be argued that the climax is the very end since we see no actual resolution.

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