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Theme and Narrative Elements in “Hills Like White Elephants”

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Theme and Narrative Elements in “Hills like White Elephants”
Shawntelle D Holloway
Ashford University

Theme and Narrative Elements in “Hills like White Elephants”
In the fictional writing, theme refers to a broad message the writer wishes to deliver buried deep within his story. A theme therefore cannot be picked directly from the storyline but only after identifying the underlying idea. Looking beyond the general plot will be the only way one can arrive at any stories intended theme. In the story hills white like elephants, the writer has used irony and satirical techniques of writing to create theme in his work.
The saddening story of a young misfortunate couple has been used to portray the theme of hopeless love in a vague world that has no concept or morality. The setting of the story is vague and without any kind of personal emotion. The young couple seems to be caught in the crossroads faced by the challenge of abortion or keeping their unborn baby. While Jig seems ready and willing to have the baby, she is pushed by her ruthless boyfriend to abort. He seems more concerned about ideals of travelling, fun and merrymaking even when making a decision involving his unborn baby. Jig is pushed by her love for him to make a decision that will affect her and murder their unborn baby. He is a hypocrite and not kind to women willing to keep his own baby. By exploiting their love, he gets Jig to consent to an abortion even if she knows it is harmful.
The use of irony and symbolism in the story are used to pronounce the theme. At the beginning, the hills appear like white elephants which are symbolic to the impending dangers of going through with an abortion. The attractive nature appears to have lost its appeal because she is worried and hence in a foul mood. Jig is therefore sad and seems to be carrying a huge burden that is weighing her down. After a little resistance however, with a cold she agrees to terminate her own pregnancy because her boyfriend does not seem too concerned about having children. This is quite devastating because she loses a part of her for a pragmatic bastard whose concern does not extend to her.
The whole story is set in a cold and dark void of emotions. From their casual discussion of the matter affecting their relationship to the solution part, the author uses a cloud of darkness on the grave alarming matter. As much the conversation is in an edgy tone, the casual remarks and responses about being free to do what she wants to and the responses about being okay while we know that she is in pain and suffering inside makes the delivery of such a tragic occurrence rigid. The writer focus is withdrawn from the story as he paints a picture of a world plunged by inhuman and emotionless figures. He does not sympathize with anybody but is biased towards both. He steers their discussion towards their love for each other while they are planning to murder an innocent fetus which has nothing to do with whatever is happening.
The casual tone and approach of the issues with sarcastic comments further contributes to establishing the theme. Jig is quite terrified and scared yet she manages to call abortion perfectly simple which is her way of accepting the situation she is in. her decision is not based on self preservation but the fact that she doesn’t love herself which is intriguing considering what kind of dilemma she is faced with. Her own life feels empty and drowning yet she manages to brush it all off.

References
Clugston, R.W (2010) Journey into Literature. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Benson, J. J. (1990). New critical approaches to the stories of Ernest Hemingway. Durham: Ducke University Press.
Flora, J. M. (1989). A study of Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne.
Holladay, H.(2004). Hills Like White Elephants. Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition, 1-3.…...

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