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This essay examines different scholarly interpretations of the ending of Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants," and suggests a different outcome from those so far considered--the girl will indeed have the abortion, expecting in this way to stay on with the man, but after the operation has been performed, he will abandon her. Various verbal and nonverbal indications found in the story support this interpretation of the narrative, as does the very symbolism of the title itself.
The proposed abortion in Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" functions as a metaphor for the fate of the story's protagonist and is an allegorical vehicle for the author's response to a series of truncated relationships in his own life. Jig and the American conduct an emotional debate in which both adopt negotiating positions diametrically opposed to their true beliefs, while each heart remains unmoved. The ultimate consequence, whether or not Jig's pregnancy is allowed to continue, is the termination—the abortion—of the couple's relationship. This reading suggests Hemingway's estrangement from friends and mentors, and events surrounding the dissolution of his first marriage, as significant influences on the story.
In the following essay, Lanier examines the symbolic uses of drinks flavored with aniseed, like absinthe, in “Hills Like White Elephants.” In Lanier’s view, Hemingway expects his reader to have knowledge of the almost mythical tales of self-destruction associated with the drink to understand the destructive nature of the couple’s relationship and the woman’s ironically expressed disappointment in her life, in which everything she has waited for ends up, like absinthe, tasting of licorice.
Textual and biographical evidence sheds light on the ambiguous ending of Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants." The published text equally supports two opposite interpretations. However, the additional textual and biographical information supports the interpretation that the American man in the story changes his mind and agrees with the pregnant woman's wish to have a baby. The story also suggests a cross-gendered autobiographical representation of the relationship between Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffer.
Hemingway often used expatriation as a literary device, yet critics have overlooked the fact that Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea is an expatriate. Born in Spain's Canary Islands, Santiago moved to Cuba as a young man; this circumstance has a significant impact on his social condition. The expatriate protagonist is isolated from his countrymen, ridiculed by his adopted community, and a failure at his chosen profession. To remedy feelings of loss, the old man reminisces about his homeland and adopts Cuban behaviors in language, sport, religion, alcohol consumption, and fishing, among other things. The purpose of his actions is to pass into Cuban society and achieve a new sense of identity. This article uses an analysis of the Santiago's Spanish background and Cuban cultural rites to elucidate how his expatriation affects his actions, self-image, and perspective on his community.
In The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway was profoundly affected by the Afro-Cuban religion of Santería and sympathetic to the idea that the sea was protected by saints and orishas. Secular faiths carry no remit in the novella and those who sail the Strait of Florida without ritual acknowledgement or acts of propitiation run the risk of being punished. Such is the fate of Santiago. His faith in baseball and his allegiance to the New York Yankees is an illustration of how mass culture was used by the United States to win Latin American hearts and minds in the post-war era and of the way such culture functioned as an instrument of social control in the fight against Communism.
In the following essay, Grebstein analyzes Hemingway's craft in The Old Man and the Sea, commenting on the structure, symbolic patterns, language, and narrative technique in the novella.
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