Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway | Summary & Analysis | Summary and Q&A

February 13, 2020
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Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway | Summary & Analysis


A couple's tense conversation at a train station raises the controversial topic of abortion, highlighting gender differences and communication issues.

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Key Insights

  • πŸ’ The white elephants symbolize both pregnancy and the burden of an unwanted gift.
  • πŸ™‚ Hemingway's use of light and darkness mirrors the division between the couple's perspectives.
  • πŸ›Ÿ The train station serves as a metaphorical crossroads, representing the couple's choices and potential life paths.
  • πŸ˜„ The beaded curtain represents emotional support, a barrier between the couple, or a plea for forgiveness.
  • πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘ Gender influences the couple's relationship dynamics and their responses to the abortion proposal.
  • πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘ Communication is complex, with the couple's skillful understanding of each other contrasting with significant gaps in their conversation.
  • πŸ₯° Love is a prevalent theme, with the couple questioning the sincerity and depth of their relationship.


Ernest Hemingway's short story heels like white elephants takes place in the mid-1920s at a train station in northern Spain along the abro River between Barcelona and Madrid in the introduction an American man and his girlfriend wait to board an express train to Madrid that's due in 40 minutes in the rising action ordering drinks while they're wait... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the significance of the title "Hills Like White Elephants"?

The title symbolizes the emotional gravity of the couple's argument, with the hills representing both the shape of a pregnant woman's belly and the rarity and importance of white elephants in Indian culture.

Q: How does Hemingway avoid using the term "abortion" in the narrative?

Hemingway leaves it up to the readers to deduce what the couple is talking about, creating a sense of ambiguity and allowing readers to interpret the story in their own way.

Q: How does gender play a role in the story?

Gender influences the couple's relationship, communication style, and attitudes towards the proposed abortion. The girl faces physical risks and ethical dilemmas, while the man prioritizes avoiding fatherhood for the sake of fun.

Q: How does communication contribute to the tension between the couple?

The couple communicates through innuendos, implications, and unspoken words, showing their inability to directly address their issues. Pronoun shifts and what is left unsaid are as significant as their actual dialogue.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The story takes place at a train station in Spain, where a couple waits for a train to Madrid.

  • Their conversation revolves around the topic of an operation, which is strongly implied to be an abortion.

  • The couple argues about whether they can have everything and ultimately reaches an ambiguous resolution.

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