Hills Like White Elephants

by: Ernest Hemingway

Motifs

Drinking

Both the American man and the girl drink alcohol throughout their conversation to avoid each other and the problems with their relationship. They start drinking large beers the moment they arrive at the station as if hoping to fill their free time with anything but discussion. Then, as soon as they begin talking about the hills that look like white elephants, the girl asks to order more drinks to put off the inevitable conversation about the baby. Although they drink primarily to avoid thinking about the pregnancy, readers sense that deeper problems exist in their relationship, of which the baby is merely one. In fact, the girl herself implies this when she remarks that she and the American man never do anything together except try new drinks, as if constantly looking for new ways to avoid each other. By the end of their conversation, both drink alone—the girl at the table and the man at the bar—suggesting that the two will end their relationship and go their separate ways.