Hills Like White Elephants

by: Ernest Hemingway

The American

Throughout the story, the American behaves according to Hemingway’s rigid conception of masculinity. Hemingway portrays the American as a rugged man’s man—knowledgeable, worldly, and always in control of himself and the situation at hand. Even when vexed or confused, he maintains his cool and feigns indifference, such as when he tells the girl he doesn’t care whether she has the operation. He initially avoids discussion of their problems, but when pressured, he tackles them head on by oversimplifying the operation and relentlessly pushing her to have it. Thinking himself to be the more reasonable of the two, he patronizes the girl and fails to provide the sympathy and understanding she needs during the crisis. Uncompromising, he seems to identify more with the other passengers “waiting reasonably” at the station than with his own girlfriend at the end of the story, which suggests that the two will go their separate ways.