.. ation is clearly circling the subject. The characters in the story are also described differently. They are introduced as the American and the girl, showing that there is a age difference between them. The man is never named, and not given much of a personality.
The girl, later named Jig, has more of a personality. She has a difficult time making up her mind whether or not to keep the baby and has a problem clearly stating what she thinks to the American. She thinks the abortion can save their relationship, while the man already has distanced himself from her and realized that they can’t go back to where they were before. The characters are really mysterious, we know nothing about their lives but they seem to have nothing to do in life apart from sex and drinking. They spend the time drinking, alcohol is considered as aphrodisiac.
They order “anís” because she wants to try new things, maybe she is considering the possibility of having a new relationship or a new experience in life, but when she tastes it she says “it tastes like licorice” which is a very common and not exotic taste, and she adds that “Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for.. ” implying that when you wait for something for a long time, for instance a relationship, once you get it, it loses the mystery and appeal. Later on there is a reference to the routine they seem to be in when she says that all they do is looking at things and trying new drinks. The two briefly discuss their future, and by that time the attitude of the American regarding the unborn child is annoying Jig.
This is shown in her remark “And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy?” The sarcasm in Jig’s question is evident, but the American is oblivious to the meaning and tosses the subject aside and continues to discuss the “simple operation.” He is clearly afraid that she will change her mind about the operation, and he is all the time trying to reassure her in the decision. He openly refers to the operation as nothing of importance, and very easy; “It’s just to let the air in”. The American feels that the pregnancy is a nuisance in their lives. The baby would mean the necessity to settle down and start a family, and this would change their life. They live a nomadic life, moving around a lot, and their suitcases are full of “labels from all the hotels they had spent nights.” At the end of the story the American says “we can have the world” and Jig replies “No, we can’t.
It isn’t ours anymore.. And once they have taken it away, you never get it back.” Here we can detect that Jig wants the child, and knows that once she has the operation she won’t be able to get the child back. She’s also afraid that after the operation the relationship will change. The American is only concerned about her having the operation. He wants to convince her it is her decision, but leaves only one option.
He says “if you don’t want to you don’t have to..But I know it’s perfectly simple.” He is the only one who have no doubts about it. The symbolism in the story is not as obvious as in “Cat in the Rain”, but also in this story Hemingway utilizes symbols to illustrate. The story takes place in a train station in the valley of the Ebro, Spain. The train in the story could symbolize change, and the fact that it only stops for two minutes illustrates the short time in which Jig has to make a decision. At this point in time abortion was certainly not legal in catholic Spain, and the decision had to be taken quickly.
In a way the train symbolizes the journey of life. Many things in the story is related to fertility and aridness. The topic of pregnancy and abortion is illustrated through the title of the story where “Hills Like White Elephants” refer to the shape of the belly of a pregnant woman. The first impression you get when you start reading the text is that it is situated in the middle of a dry, infertile place under the sun, with no shade or trees. It reinforces the idea of lack of life but in contrast, the people are in the warm shadow of the building where life is. This emphasizes the contrast between the pregnancy of the woman, as being fertile, and everything around them, including him.
They are also separated from the rest of the people that are inside the bar from a bamboo bead curtain, it gives the idea of privacy reinforced by the idea of the warm shadow of the building that protects them from the world that exists inside the bar, they are outside, with nature. The unusual name of the girl, Jig, is also somewhat symbolic. It is the name of a lively dance and it can also refer to “a particular sort of behavior or activity which varies according to the situation that someone is in” (Collins Cobuild Dictionary). I discovered this by chance looking up the dance, but that meaning of the name clearly shows that Hemingway didn’t pick the name out of the air. The name implies that she can change her mind about the abortion, and the American is afraid that this might happen.
He is all the time trying to reassure her in the decision. After the first introductory paragraph, the dialogue between the two people start. The dialogue seems casual, but through it we can deduce the kind of relationship they have. The language is simple, but it’s still expressing feelings. The real theme of the conversation is not clearly stated but it is underlying, they are talking about love, feelings and her pregnancy.
The tension is in the air, but is not expressed openly, maybe because of a fear of being overheard (since they are talking about an illegal act), or maybe it’s just a problem of communication and of sharing feelings. There are some references to sexuality in the form of phallic symbols, such as “Anís del Toro”, the bull being a symbol of virility and strength. It’s the girl, Jig, who starts the dialogue and she is the one taking the decisions, implying that the decision for the abortion in the end will be hers. The American avoids the topic at first, changing the subject and talk about simple things such as the weather. Like most men, he has a problem showing his feelings. The story also shows another trait of Hemingway’s stories; the use of Spanish (foreign) words and sentences. The man orders “dos cervezas” from the bar lady.
One can assume that she doesn’t speak English, but later on he orders and she answers in English. However, from the context of the story it is clear that this conversation also takes place in Spanish, but that in order not to translate the whole conversation only the first word exchange was kept in Spanish to set the stage. The use of Spanish word and sentences is also shown in the story A Clean Well-Lighted Place. This story is, like “Hills Like White Elephants”, set in a small Spanish town and almost the entire story takes place inside a small “café.” The main part of the story is the conversation between the two waiters. The younger waiter is impatient to get home to his wife, and angry at the old man who’s keeping them there so late.
The other waiter is older, unmarried and in no hurry to get home. He empathizes with the old man, and understand his need to stay there. In fact he states that “I am of those who like to stay late at the café.” The older waiter shows concern for the old man, and he is the one who knows about the niece and the suicide attempt. As the story progresses, the character of the two waiters emerges through their dialogue and thoughts, as does many of Hemingway’s characters. The use of Spanish words in this story, suggesting it takes place in Spain, emerges at the end of the story, as the older waiter walks of alone and visits some bar.
When the bartender asks what he wants, the man answers in Spanish: “Nada”. The bartender answers in Spanish “Otro loco mas” suggesting that, as is the case with the conversation between the man and the waiter in Hills Like White Elephants, the whole conversation actually takes place in Spanish. The setting of the story in Spain could also be supported by the surroundings of the café. The soldier passing by with his sweetheart, and the two men’s comments at the time suggests that it is in the period of the dictatorship before the civil war, or during the war. Their comments that the guards will get him could point to a time of conflict. (Like the civil war.) In the story the older waiter possesses many of the typical character traits of the Hemingway hero.
He is reserved, judgmental and thoughtful, much like Harry in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. He takes the old man in his defense, and shows concern for him. He says he knows how nice it is to be in a clean, well-lighted place instead of in some noisy, dirty bar. He doesn’t mind staying in the bar a little longer so the man can finish up in his own pace. At the end he has a “discussion” with himself, contemplating his life and religion and the emptiness of his existence. This is another parallel to the character of Harry.
As A Clean Well-Lighted Place and Hills like White Elephants, the story The Killers is placed in a little place. This story is situated inside a small diner in a small town called Summit. The story begins as two men, immediately striking the reader as rude and unpleasant men, enters and starts to hassle the manager, George. There is only one customer in the diner except the two gangsters, and he is quickly intimidated by the men. The customer, Nick Adams, is a character Hemingway writes about in several stories. Like the two other stories mentioned earlier, this story is merely told as if someone is outside registering what happens.
Hemingway often writes his stories like that, as if observed by a camera. Also the dialogue in the story is typical of Hemingway. It is the dialogue that carries the action of the story and there is no need for much explanation except to describe certain actions. The style of much dialogue and a writing the way people speak is something Hemingway masters perfectly. The emotion behind the dialogue is also easy to spot in most Hemingway stories.
In this story it seems as if Andreson doesn’t care about his life anymore. Like Harry in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, he merely accepts the fact that he’s dying. Neither Andreson or Harry is doing anything to avoid their destiny, even though in both cases they could probably at least postpone death. Andreson merely says “there’s nothing I can do about it” and he just stays apathetic in his room. The fact that he haven’t been out all day points to him already knowing about the gangsters from Chicago, and as George suggests, he probably got in to some kind of trouble in Chicago.
Conclusion: Hemingway generally use much dialogue and writes in a conversational style. All five of the stories I have chosen contain a lot of dialogue and the characters carry the action of the story through their conversation. Hemingway, like William Faulkner, was an expert in writing human dialogue. The symbolism in Hemingway’s stories are often taking form of animals, but also other symbols are commonly used. In several of his short stories, Ernest Hemingway uses one or several animals as symbols around which the stories revolve. As central symbols, Hemingway’s animals are the manifestations of the psychological states and emotional desires of the main characters in the stories and are used to enable the reader’s apprehension of the often unstated psychological forces that motivate them.
The sexual undertone is also often a strong presence in Hemingway’s stories. As the conversation goes on the feeling that there is more to what the character say emerges, and one can understand the underlying, double meaning of the story. This is something notably of Hemingway. Often he is characterized as the “master of innuendo and double meaning.” The geographical placement of Hemingway’s stories are usually limited to minimal physical settings, and the time span is short. All five stories discussed here are limited to a little place, whether that is a bar, train station, café, diner or the small hunting camp on the great plains of Africa. This is a usual trait in many short stories, and this is a trait Hemingway often uses.
The women, or the supporting characters, in Hemingway’s stories are often weak and indecisive. The wife in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the woman in Cat in the Rain and the girl in Hills Like White Elephants are all either weak or treated badly without them doing anything about it. Harry’s wife in The Snows of Kilimanjaro is not even named, even though we get to know Harry well through the story. Jig in Hills Like White Elephants seems to be a strong woman. However, the way she is treated and the fact that she most likely will give in to the mans whishes and have the abortion, tells us that she isn’t strong enough to stand up for herself after all.
Hemingway has a tendency to treat the women in his stories badly, and the male characters of his stories is often emotionally cold and doesn’t show much feelings. This could be a reflection of his own life, Hemingway was married several times and never seemed emotionally stabile. He eventually even took his life. Hemingway’s characters are usually mobile and unattached. Often they are people who are travelling in strange and unfamiliar environments, in train stations, on safari, at diners or bars, at the races or in the bull fighting arena. He writes about lovers, often tearing each other apart.
He writes about the old writer on his deathbed, glancing up at the snow covered top of Kilimanjaro and thinking about everything his life should have been. He writes about the lonely old man, patiently sitting in the clean well-lighted place as long as he can, just to forget about whatever it is waiting for him out in the night. He writes about the old man fighting the marlin in his little boat, just to prove to himself that he can beat the sea one more time. Hemingway is one of the greatest writers of our century, and his stories will live on to amuse many generations to come. Bibliography Wilson, M., “No Man Alone – A biography of Ernest Hemingway”, http://members.aol.com/Mwilson311/Hemingway/biogra phy.htm, visited November 13, 1998 Pickering, James H., “Fiction 100 -An Anthology of Short Stories” 8th ed., Prentice-Hall inc.
New Jersey, 1998 Hemingway, Ernest “Short Stories” Charles Scribner’ Sons New York, 1953.