A conversation in a Spanish cafe between a man and a woman that is not as simple as it seems.
Hills Like White Elephants is a short story by Ernest Hemingway, which was first published in the 1927 collection Men Without Women. Here, a man and his girlfriend wait for a train to Madrid at station in rural Spain, the almost casual nature of their conversation evading the true emotional depth of what’s happening between the two of them.
This story is considered to be among Ernest Hemingway’s best short fiction, showcasing the author’s powerful ability to strip writing down to its bare bones and allow the reader’s imagination to fill in the subtext.
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Three novels, four collections of short stories and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of these are considered classics of American literature.
Terse literary style of Ernest Miller Hemingway, an American writer, ambulance driver of World War I , journalist, and expatriate in Paris during the 1920s, marks short stories and novels, such as The Sun Also Rises (1926) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952), which concern courageous, lonely characters, and he won the Nobel Prize of 1954 for literature.
Economical and understated style of Hemingway strongly influenced 20th-century fiction, whereas his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He published seven novels, six short story collections and two nonfiction works. Survivors published posthumously three novels, four collections of short stories, and three nonfiction works. People consider many of these classics.
After high school, Hemingway reported for a few months for the Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian front to enlist. In 1918, someone seriously wounded him, who returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms. In 1922, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The couple moved, and he worked as a foreign correspondent and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the expatriate community of the "lost generation" of 1920s.
After his divorce of 1927 from Hadley Richardson, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. At the Spanish civil war, he acted as a journalist; afterward, they divorced, and he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and 1940s.
Martha Gellhorn served as third wife of Hemingway in 1940. When he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II, they separated; he presently witnessed at the Normandy landings and liberation of Paris.
Shortly after 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where two plane crashes almost killed him and left him in pain and ill health for much of the rest of his life. Nevertheless, in 1959, he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.
"I wanted to try this new drink. That's all we do, isn't it—look at things and try new drinks?" Hills Like White Elephants ~~ Ernest Hemingway
Hills Like White Elephants may be the best example of Hemingway's Iceberg Theory. Hemingway contends that the words on the page should be merely a small part of the whole story. The words on the page are the proverbial "tip of the iceberg," and a writer should use as few words as possible in order to indicate the larger, unwritten story that resides below the surface. Hemingway uses his theory to full effect here, and the results are dazzling. Hemingway wrote in Death in the Afternoon, "A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing." It is obvious here that Hemingway knows these people, the underlying emotions and what is about to take place.
Noticeable is the absence of the word "abortion," even though that is clearly the main subject of the story. There are also several indications that this isn't the first time the characters have discussed the issue, and i believe, it will not be the last.
Hills across the valley are long and white like white elephants a couple sitting outside a bar besides those white hills discussing something couples usually do not the usual ones but those in strained relationships.
What else we got nothing but some witnesses absinthe, beads of bamboos, valley, rails, liquorice and of course, hills like white elephants.
where is the plot well, there is none reader has to made the one he has to actively fill in the gaps he gets author’s intentions, perhaps.
Hemingway provides a reader, the stimulation to draw his own portrait through his eyes of imagination and he has with himself all those witnesses as symbols.
Well, this is minimalist approach where though the words are absent but underlying emotions are evidently felt.
So, what we have here a sketch of human emotions through some dialogues interspersed among symbols open to multiple interpretations.
A conversation takes place, between an American man and a young woman called Jig. They’re having a few drinks whilst waiting for a train, and it’s clear that a procedure may be about to take place once they reach their destination, and that this procedure will have life changing results. A short story from Ernest Hemingway.
Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway is a short story about abortion, feminism and relationship. The story is set on a bar section of a train set to Madrid. Simple as they can appear, an American man (who is not named) and a girl named Jig are sitting and having an intense and enduring discussion over whether or not Jig will get an abortion. The American man, however, tries to convince Jig that undergoing abortion is just easy as pie which is completely insulting. At the end of the story, the train is about to arrive to its destination and the outcome of their discussion is still unclear because the last words she said were: "I feel fine". We are now left wondering if she went through with the operation or not.
Significance of the Title: Hills like White Elephants
Hills: Hills are curved land formation. If we draw a hill vertically (position it on a portrait vision) it will look like a pregnant woman (the hill acting as the womb of a woman). Take for example the letter 'b'. :)
White Elephants: White elephants signifies a precious item. In the story it describes the hill (The baby inside the womb). A white elephant is very rare and a beautiful gift to some culture but its cost perhaps surpasses its usefulness. Suppose, you give someone a gift like White Elephant, it will become totally useless to the recipient. And that is exactly the reality of what Jig is going through. She has received a gift (the baby on her womb) which is, at that time in her life, useless to her because it was unexpected. It is also a gift that could be priceless to another.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
A couple. A bar. A health condition of some sort. And some modest research done by a reader to understand what was going on exactly. Mere descriptions of actions and dialogue were not enough. But the reader doesn't blame the author for her lack of perception. A detached author that seems to barely know them. A foreign in their lands.
The economy of the words. Emotions, all over the place. In silence. They have lost their names yet their presence is still felt.
Hemingway's dumb ass short story about a woman about to get Lasik surgery. The man informs her he cares enough about her to stay with her even if she doesn't want to do it, and would rather keep her glasses. But with her glasses she's like someone else. She doesn't look like the woman he fell in love with. He doesn't want someone else, he wants her.
Since there's nothing in the story that proves it can't be about Lasik surgery, or that it's about something stupid like abortion, it's absolutely about Lasik surgery. When you write a fucking Iceberg story with vagueness and allusions, you lazily create something that is meaningless. You give rise to Fan Theories and stupid speculation that never solidifies into reality, always remains a foggy blur of ideation. If you want readers to interpret your story the right way it's your job to put the proper content in there to make it unambiguous. Scattering the shitty puzzle pieces in a shitty layer of shitty writing doesn't do anyone any good, especially when they don't fit together into a reliable picture.
A memorable and well-written short story about a man pressuring a woman into getting an abortion. "Hills Like White Elephants" showcases Hemingway's writing at its best: clipped, elusive, yet packed with clues that make you want to discover more. Hemingway's characters say a lot without saying much at all, which makes some of his works bland and unbearable, but that style of dialogue works well in this short story. He captures the conflict inherent within difficult conversations and how we oftentimes fail to listen and to assert ourselves when appropriate. Yes, as in quite a few Hemingway stories, the male character comes across as annoying and passive-aggressive, and yes, this story does not have enough space to make a deep emotional impact. But "Hills Like White Elephants" serves as a good study in how to write dialogue well, and it moves fast enough to keep your attention. Overall, one of Hemingway's better short stories.
داستان گفتگوی دو زوج در یک ایستگاه قطار که در مورد سقط جنین صحبت میکنند. پر از حرفهای غیر مستقیم و تشبیه های زیباست. با اینکه کتاب کوتاهه ولی مجبور شدم چند بار کتاب رو بخونم و تفسیر های کتاب رو بخونم تا کامل متوجه بشم پشت پرده حرف های ساده زن و مرد چه چیزهایی پنهانه و چه میگذره.
Hills Like White Elephants is a 1927 short fiction story about a man and a woman conversing while waiting in a Spanish train station. She compares the nearby hills to white elephants. A symbol of something useless or troublesome to some yet a rare priceless gift to others. The couple’s words are vague. Their topic left for the reader's interpretation. They clearly see the situation from different perspectives. The proverb “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” applies here.
Now This Is Writing in all its traditional glory, basic stuff that actually gleams and not crumbles in your hands like dross. This is what writing, what Words, is all about. Right here, this is how it's done people. With simplicity, Hemingway allows you to see his simple genius. With bare words he bares everything; gives you his all but that's actually just a glimpse, and therein lies his true mastery. He lets you in, sure but he makes you keep all of it, while you think what you've been given is Whole. It's not but that's redundant, except that in Hemingway's case even redundancy serves a purpose.
What a skillful display of Ice Berg Theory here, an early but confident showcasing of his trademark minimalist style, both techniques he alone perfected. What an euphemism for ice berg in itself, after all this was a short, short story with way deeper meaning behind it. Hills like White Elephants was storytelling for story's sake, not just a writer amusing himself. Not an ounce of purple prose or overwroughtness in this one. OK, before y'all jump in on me, let me remind you this is about Hemingway and not me, let's keep it that way, haha. Because as you know, often writers fall victim to their own ax by falling in love not with some Muse or an Excuse of any sorts, but with their own Voice. Isn't that dangerous? For all involved? When you think about it, a writer is really just someone standing at a pulpit preaching to empty air. You know what's even more insane? People sometimes gather around him and actually listen to him, well read him in any case. That's what is maddening.
These two. An American and (probably) an American girl. A man sits with a girl as they await their fate or their train. It's always a girl with Hemingway, isn't it; his succor in his war against time, ultimately aging and maybe even against dying. But these two! How I love their exchanges. I miss conversations like these, yearn for them and look for them in Other fiction. These two weren't sparse characters mouthing printed words on paper, no, no, no, no, they were real people talking to each other.
Maybe I've been reading bunch of dreck pretenders lately, so this truly felt like real writing to me it flowed like water, wide open to myriad interpretations, and Hemingway even lets you make up few of your own, that was his stroke, his gift. The obvious meaning of the story was, well obvious. Though I'll admit I didn't get some aspects of it, like what exactly did the Hills like White Elephants meant? If anyone wants to fill me in on that, be my guest. Or Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest Emma Watson. Spoon feed me, don't wanna look up analysis elsewhere. Don't be Shy. Or be her, she was ferocious. Or the title could mean what I think it means. Oh! Isn't that clever?
Men in Hemingway's stories are always likable, deep, mature, world-weary and sage. Thus giving him an air of an old man making him seem older, even when he wasn't old himself. Even before he became an Old Man lost at Sea. Men who witnessed War and war seem to witness changes in them too. The man at the station in this story was earthly and melancholic, seemingly nice and gentle. Selfish in a very selfless way. And the girl was a real person, rather than just a cardboard character. It's refreshing when women are shown as people in fiction. Though I understand how sometimes that can be fiction as well. This girl, you could tell he probably based her on somehow he knew, someone he drew from experience. That's so relatable, frustratingly so.
The Spanish setting was fitting and the backdrop of War, imminent or distant, haunting and romantic. As it also could have been about war within themselves. The decision they were to make, or weren't making. Now that I think of it, the girl probably was an American too, she didn't understand Spanish.
When I was reading this, I had to turn off Sigur Rós so that I can hear Hemingway's words better and maybe even listen to them. Let me tell you something, it was worth it. Little that you know of me, shades that are familiar to you, you know that means something.
Bonus material because I love this story so much, so I'll make you fall in love with yourself. I mean with this. Here are two things that I really liked from it :
The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station . Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.
I love this part, maybe because it reminds me of his novel Across the River and into the Trees, one of my fav. I can see him taking that title from this.
I'm quite unsure how to rate this little anecdote, because I'm pretty positive that it's a conversation about whether or not the girl . I feel like that's kind of an easy thing to realise, though, and the description of this work is that it's a conversation that "isn't as it seems" so is there a deeper meaning? What did I miss?
I'm off to read some analyses, which will probably tell me that I'm wrong.
EDIT: I'm back! I read a few summaries/analyses. And I'm pretty satisfied with my skills of deduction, from this CliffNotes analysis: "In other words, it will take an exceptionally perceptive reader to realize immediately that the couple is arguing about the girl's ."
Exceptionally perceptive, you say? Why, thank you.
I hated this story. I read it in a college English course and my dislike for Hemingway increased after reading it. I had no idea how strong my feelings about this were. The couple are engaged in a conversation with very different views. The man is horribly manipulative and the woman is portrayed as weak. It was written in 1927 but is very relevant even today. My opinion is strong and many may not be as emotional in their reaction.
I didn't get what it meant until I looked it up. I didn't care about the story. There was no imagery, no intrigue, no interest in the characters. The symbolism of the white elephants would've been nice if I'd understood what it meant, maybe. Too subtle?
Here's what the story's about: a man and a woman having the most undecipherable conversation regarding an operation that she has to undergo...or not. There's nothing mentioned concerning the kind of operation. I thought that they were talking about lobotomy (she seemed a little off) until I read that this was written in 1927.
I love Hemingway's approach to writing. I think it takes an excellent writer to use mainly dialogue to present each characters personality without using narrative. I also enjoy the symbolism throughout the story. One in particular I enjoy Hemingway's Iceberg approach to writing because doesn't the story really belong to the reader and how we choose to interpret it?
اینو توی کلاس کارگردانی برامون خوندن و مثل بقیه آثاری که از همینگوی خوندم از اینم خوشم نیومد، میگن که همینگوی رویداد ها رو ثبت میکنه و از این جهت نثرش به فیلمنامه نزدیکه و به دنیای سینما، ولی برای من خیلی دنیای آثارش خشک و بی روح به نظر میاد:(
you know this feeling when you watch one of these tik toks where no clue is given about the context and you just have to figure out it out on your own, and you usually fail to understand what the fuck happened ? yeah same thing with this book
This is probably one of the most famous short stories published in the English language. Only four pages long but thousands of people (mostly students, I suppose :D) racked one's brains over it and pondered on its meaning and all its layer.
The premise is easy enough: it's a conversation between an American man and a young woman (referred to as a "girl" throughout the story) at a train station while waiting for a train to Madrid. During their conversation only two significant things happen: 1) the girl compares the nearby hills to white elephants, and 2) the pair indirectly discusses an "operation" that the man wants the girl to have.
After I finished reading the story (which only takes 5 minutes), I was so confused why people love it so much and why they think it's so clever? I've heard from many people that they had to read the story multiple times (sometimes at different stages in their life) for it to finally click and understand what the two are talking about. BESH WHAT?? I think it's kinda obvious. I mean, don't get me wrong, we cannot know for sure what good ole Ernest was getting at because he left it ambiguous for a reason, but even after my first reading of the story I thought that it was fairly obvious that the two were talking about an abortion.
The question that then arises is whether or not the woman decides to keep the baby, and/ or if the couple will break up or stay together. [If you ask me, the woman should do with her body whatever the fuck she wants, but she 100% has to ditch that creep. Just my two cents.] Of course, readers can only speculate, but I found it interesting to read different people's takes on these questions, especially when people analysed cues in the dialogue to come to their conclusions.
I couldn't be bothered to delve too deep into an analysis because the story really didn't do it for me but I understand why certain people would obsess over it. And even though I didn't end up loving the story, I can definitely appreciate how MUCH Ernest (yes, we're on first name basis, he's an ass) managed to put into so FEW pages. I love short story that are more open and leave room for implications and for readers to fill in the gaps.
One interpretation of the title that I found interesting is that it may be a reference to White elephant sales, so basically something like a yard sale where people get rid off unwanted gifts. (The term "white elephant" refers to an extravagant but burdensome gift that cannot be easily disposed of, based on the legend of the King of Siam gifting rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, that they might be ruined by the animals' upkeep costs.) Then, the parallel to the abortion becomes even more evident. But it could also be a reference to the literal "elephant in the room", a phrase that is commonly used to refer to something that is painfully obvious but not talked about. But who knows.
3stars داستانی در تقابل بین غریزه( زن) و عقلانیت( نماد مرد در داستان که البته گروهی به عقلانیت حُقه بازانه تفسیر نموده اند) همان طور که در “تپه هایی چون فیلهای سفید” خواندیم این اثر با دیالوگ های طرح شده است که مشخصاً بسیار ساده و سطحی نمایان می شوند؛ اما هنر نویسنده در این است که عبارات بسیار ساده ای را تبدیل به کلید واژه های فهم داستان کرده است.
به عنوان چند نمونه ساده: دیالوگ “چشم دیدن نداری”؛ با خواندن این دیالوگ متوجه می شویم که مرد با دختر اختلاف دارد و در دیالوگ “آره همه چیز طعم شیرین بیان می دهد. به خصوص چیزهایی که آدم مدت های زیادی چشم به راهشان باشد مثل افسنطین” دختر انتظار چیزی یا کسی را می کشد که مثل طعم شیرین بیان است و در این جا این شباهت به افسنطین نسبت داده شده که به نظر می رسد نام کسی باشد و همچنین در دیالوگ “ول کن دیگر بابا” ؛به نظر می رسد اختلاف بر سر افسنطین است. در دیالوگ “جگ باور کن یک عمل خیلی ساده است. باور کن اسمش را عمل هم نمی شود گذاشت”؛ زن قرار است تن به عمل جراحی ناخواسته ای بدهد که احتمالا” با افسنطین ارتباط دارد. (البته ارتباط عمل جراحی با افسنطین در این قسمت تنها بر پایه حدس و گمان است) و در ادامه دیالوگ “آخر این تنها چیزی است که موی دماغ ماست. تنها چیزی که سد راه خوشبختی ماست”؛ در ادامه نیز می خوانیم که در این عمل از فشار هوا استفاده می کنند.. در تحلیل داستان کوتاه تپه هایی چون فیلهای سفید می توان گفت شاید به راحتی بتوان این نتیجه را گرفت که دختری که انتظار افسنطین را می کشد و مردی که از این اتفاق ناراحت است. دختر قرار است تن به عملی ناخواسته بدهد که در آن از فشار هوا استفاده می کنند. با خواندن دیالوگ ها پی می بریم که حدس ما درست بوده و دختر باردار است و مرد این بچه را سد راه خوشبختی می داند در ادامه تحلیل داستان کوتاه تپه هایی چون فیلهای سفید باید گفت که “لیونل تریلینگ” منتقد؛ سر نخ را در جایی دیگر جستجو می کند که البته هیچ اشاره ای به نام افسنطین نمی کند (رجوع کنید به جلد اول داستان و نقد داستان گزیده و ترجمه احمد گلشیری)
برای مثال در مورد نام داستان می نویسد: در پاره ای نواحی مشرق زمین فیل سفید جانوری مقدس است که با صرف هزینه ای گزاف باید از آن نگهداری کرد بی آن که به کارش گمارد. بدین ترتیب فیل سفید چیزی است که که به ظاهر اعتبار و ارزشی دارد اما در عمل وبال گردن است و باید از آن رهایی یافت.
در ادامه قسمتی از کتاب پروفسر جفری مایرز – استاد ادبیات یکی از دانشگاههای آمریکا- در تحلیل داستان کوتاه تپه هایی چون فیلهای سفید را میخوانیم « مقایسه تپههایی چون فیلهای سفید- یعنی جانورانی خیالی که نماد چیزهای بیفایده، مثل کودکی ناخواستهاند- نقشی حساس در معنای قصه دارد. این تشبیه بدل به کانونی برای مجادله میشود، و تقابلی میان زن خیال پرداز، که از دیدن چشمانداز برانگیختهشده، و مرد سطحی نگر که با دیدگاه او همراهی نمیکند… درون مایه ی قصه، از میان رشته ای از قطب بندیها سر بر میآورد: طبیعی در برابر غیر طبیعی، غریزی در برابر عقلانی، پنداری در برابر گفتاری، حیاتی در برابر بیمارگونه. مرد خودخواه، نا آگاه از احساس های زن میکوشد به زور او را وادار به سقط جنین کند… تا آن که بتوانند درست مثل قبل بشوند… زن که این کار را به طرز وحشتناکی غیرطبیعی مییابد، از کشتن بچه و آسیب دیدن خودش، وحشت میکند. هر آنچه مرد میگوید دروغ است؛ هر آنچه زن میگوید ، طعنهآمیز است. مرد ، زن را وا میدارد که با عمل جراحی موافقت کند تا عشقاش را بازیابد، اما خود این واقعیت که مرد میتواند از او بخواهد چنان کاری را بکند، به این معناست که زن دیگر هرگز نمیتواند او را دوست بدارد. زن به این نوع خودنابودی رضا میدهد، پس از آن که بهگونهای از گسستگی خویشتن میرسد که در مرد زیرزمینی داستایفسکی و یوزف ک. کافکا تصویر شده و منعکس کننده رویکرد مرد به اوست: « پس این کار را میکنم چون اهمیتی به خودم نمیدهم.» بعد گام زنان از مرد دور میشود و… در طبیعت آرامش مییابد: در گندمزارها، درختان، رود و تپههای فراسو. تفکر آرامبخش او به هنگامی که نگاهش را در جستجوی کمک به تپهها میاندازد، یادآور آیه ۱۲۱ انجیل است. اما روحیه او از دست گفتههای مصرانه ی مرد بههم میریزد و او را تا آستانه ی فروپاشی پیش میبرد. به پژواک شاه لیر-اشاره به نمایش نامه شکسپیر- که میگوید« هرگز، هرگز، هرگز، هرگز، هرگز»، دختر با پریشانی التماس میکند:« میشود لطفاَ لطفاَ لطفاَ لطفاَ لطفاَ لطفاَ لطفاَ دیگر حرف نزنی؟». نقد از: حسین فرجی راد
The simplicity of Hemingway’s stories isn’t for everyone. There’s so much left for our interpretation that the way we understand it says more about us than the author or the characters.
It is a short story about a man convincing a woman to have an operation. He says it’s simple, quick, and would solve all their problems. Although it’s never mentioned what kind of operation the man is convincing his girlfriend to have, many of us can assume it’s abortion.
Their conversations reveal deep relationship as well as personal issues that have little to do with the unexpected pregnancy they are facing.
A great short read about the importance of communication.
Ford Maddox Ford, whom I consider to be one of the greatest writers who almost caused my hospitalization for boredom, said of Hemingway's writing style: "Hemingway's words strike you, each one, as if they were pebbles fetched fresh from a brook. They live and shine, each in its place."
Here is another typical Hemingway story built on dialogue. A man and a woman, obviously lovers, most likely unmarried, in a railway station in a valley with white hills shaped like elephants somewhere in Spain. They talk: the man mostly pleading, the woman at times in a silent rage, at times hinting of hurt. Hemingway doesn't tell these and neither do the characters. But you feel them from what they say to each other. Five short pages of shiny pebbles, each one deserving alert attention, for they grow, throb with thoughts and feelings, and expand the story ten times as the words contract and consume themselves.