Hills Like White Elephants

by: Ernest Hemingway

The Girl Quotes

Quotes The Girl Quotes
“I don’t know,” the girl said. “Is it good with water?”

When the man asks the girl if she wants water to mix with the Anis del Toro they ordered, she asks his opinion. Even in ordering a drink, she cannot seem to make up her mind and defers to what the man thinks. In direct contrast to the man who asserts his position, she embodies the more stereotypically feminine characteristics of meekness and malleability.

“They’re lovely hills,” she said. “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.”

Shortly after the girl says that the hills look like white elephants, she looks at them again and changes her opinion, while still maintaining the hills share some qualities with white elephants. This change of mind reveals her creative insights as well as her indecisiveness. She does not see the world in black and white as the man seems to, and she reacts to change by relying on her own judgments.

And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?

Here, the girl asks the man if he’ll still love and accept her if she has the abortion. She seems to have her entire identity wrapped up in her relationship with the man, making decisions about her own body and future based on his happiness and willingness to stay with her.

Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.

When the girl determines that the man will be happy if she has the abortion, she says here that she will have the operation for him because she does not care about herself. Her decision implies that if she did care at all about herself, she would not have the abortion and would have the child. Like many women of the time, she puts aside her own desires to please the man.

“I feel fine,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.”

When the man comes back from bringing their bags to the right side of the tracks, he asks the girl if she feels better. She dismisses any concerns about her well-being, and as she has done for most of their conversation, she likely does not say what she truly means. She knows she cannot reveal her true feelings without upsetting him or losing him.