Hills Like White Elephants

by: Ernest Hemingway

Gender

Quotes Gender
I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural.

As the man begins to convince the girl to have the operation, he gives a simplistic description of the procedure. The obvious redaction represents a misleading and entirely unscientific description of an abortion, but the man tries to comfort the girl by explaining how easy and painless the operation will be. Even though she likely knows more about how the operation would work, she defers to his knowledge as women were expected to do at the time.

Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.

Here, the girl asserts that she will have the operation because doing so will stop the man from worrying. Even though she seems to want to keep the baby, she definitively states here that she will end the pregnancy if this action makes the man happier. Like many women of the time, when forced to choose between her own wants and the wants of her husband or partner, she wastes no time in saying that she will do what she needs to do to please the man.

“Come on back in the shade,” he said. “You mustn’t feel that way.”

When the girl steps out into the sun and begins saying that the world isn’t theirs anymore, he dismisses her sadness as caused by discomfort from the climate. In a typical male role for the time, he sees the girl as weak and needing protection. Just as he does not pick up on the fact that the girl doesn’t feel eager to have the operation, he does not actually listen to what she is saying when she laments what they have lost.