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Hills Like White Elephants

Ernest Hemingway

Setting

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols

The Iceberg Theory and Hemingway’s Style

Hemingway sets “Hills Like White Elephants” at a train station to highlight the fact that the relationship between the American man and the girl is at a crossroads. Planted in the middle of a desolate valley, the station isn’t a final destination but merely a stopping point between Barcelona and Madrid. Travelers, including the main characters, must therefore decide where to go and, in this case, whether to go with each other and continue their relationship. Moreover, the contrast between the white hills and barren valley possibly highlights the dichotomy between life and death, fertility and sterility, and mirrors the choice the girl faces between having the baby or having the abortion. The girl seems torn between the two landscapes, not only commenting on the beauty of the hills but also physically walking to the end of the platform and gazing out at the brown emptiness around the station.

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