Hills Like White Elephants

by: Ernest Hemingway

Choice

Quotes Choice
I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.

As the couple debate a decision, the man tells the girl which choice he would prefer to make in their situation. The story infers the characters discuss an abortion. He urges her to have the operation, while repeatedly stating that she should make the final decision. She meets his gentle urging with silence, indicating that she would prefer to not terminate her pregnancy.

“You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it.” “So have I,” said the girl. “And afterward they were all so happy.”

This exchange between the man and his girlfriend reveals that the two are considering more than just what to do about the abortion. By extension, they sense the continued happiness of their relationship hinges on the decision. The man in particular thinks that they can only go back to being happy if the procedure happens, because he sees the pregnancy as their only source of unhappiness. However, the girl feels differently. Here, she echoes the man’s sentiment, perhaps to keep the peace. The sarcasm in her comment expresses her doubt that the operation will solve their problems. Although both the man and girl face the same choice, they each will bear different consequences of the decision.

No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.

The girl refers to the happiness and wholeness of their lives. When the girl says that if she has the operation they could “have everything,” she means freedom as she looks at the vistas around them. Here, she tries to explain that if the preservation of their relationship means the pregnancy ends, they lose something that they can never get back—meaning their baby will never be theirs again. Although she does not share her thoughts directly, the baby is her “everything” and she knows that making the choice to have the abortion would stay with her forever.