Friday, May 4, 2012

Evils of a man

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Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is a brilliant work that tells what evils happen when a man has power over a woman. “Hills Like White Elephants” is an extremely short story, but a beautiful one at that. It takes place at a train station in rural Spain. There is a man and a young woman at the train station and they are conversing about whether or not the young lady should have an abortion or not. The man got her pregnant and wants to abort the baby, while the lady, on the other hand, is still not sure what the fate of her unborn child should be. In this story, the man can be viewed in two ways as very selfish about his love towards the woman, or as being very generous in his love for her. Because he is older and more experienced than she is, he has a great advantage, economic power. The end of the story can be read in several different ways in regards to the man. Either the man is a victor over the woman, a loser to the woman, or someone who possesses undiminished power over her.


Many believe that the man is extremely selfish in his love towards the girl. He does not want anyone to interfere with his love for her and he feels that the baby inside of the girl will do just that. The man states, “But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want any one else.” This statement shows that he does not want to let anybody into his life with the girl that might interfere with his love for her. Many take this as a selfish statement. If he said that about another man in her life, then maybe it would not be as selfish of a statement, but the child is of his own flesh and blood. If he is willing to kill that just because he does not want anything interfering with his love for the girl, then he is an extremely selfish man. Also, if the man truly loved the woman, he would have her interests in mind as well as his own. He would realize that if the girl wanted to keep the baby, then he should let her. On the contrary, he only thinks of himself and does not bother to think of the young girl that he has impregnated.


Another reading of the story would be that the man loves the woman greatly and does not want anything but her. Because he does not want anything that might take away from his love for the woman, he is greatly in love with her. He wants to be able to concentrate on her and only her. He realizes that a child in their life means that there will be a distraction in their love. They will not be able to focus one hundred percent on each other. They will not be able to do the things they like to do any longer. Traveling as they are will no longer be an option because they would not be able to bring an infant with them. Some readers of this story say that this proves his great love for the woman.


The man in Hemingway’s story has a great amount of power economically over the girl. He knows, and so does she, that she would never be able to survive on her own. She does not have as much economic freedom as he does. He uses this power of freedom to manipulate the way she thinks. If she refuses to comply with him, he can simply threaten to leave her and she would have no where to go. She would therefore have no other choice than to abort the baby if she wants to stay with him and not be thrown out on the streets. An instance that really shows the man’s power shining through is when the girl changes her mind about what the hills look like. At the beginning of the story while looking at the hills, she states, “They look like white elephants,” and the man gets angry with her for saying such a silly thing. After they argue for a little bit, the girl says “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.” She said something which the man thought was absurd. When she realized that the man did not like what she said, she changed her mind about what she was saying. The girl did not want the man to be angry with her because she knew that that can be disastrous for her.


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The climax of “Hills Like Whit Elephants” comes at the very end of the story when the reader has a choice to make. Was the man a winner, loser, or did he posses undiminished power? Many view him as a winner. The woman has no control over her situation and he has manipulated her into deciding to get the abortion. When in the last line of the story she says, “I feel fine,” she is saying that she is okay with the idea of the abortion and will go through with it. Therefore, he has had a victory over her. Other people say that the girl is the victor, and the man the loser. If this is the case, at the end when she says “I feel fine,” it is her saying that she is okay with the baby inside of her. She will not have the abortion no matter how much the man wants it because she is okay with having the baby. Still others believe that he ends the story with undiminished power, but no decision has been made by the young girl yet. At the end she is just simply answering his question because she no longer wants to talk about it. Hemingway’s writing style often includes obscurity which is why the end is not clear. No one really knows what will be the fate of the baby because it is not made clear, but the three possibilities discussed are all very likely.


Earnest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is a short story that revealed many problems with society. It brought out the evils of a man’s power of a woman. The man in this story is older than the woman, or girl, as she is referred to, and therefore appears to have power over her. Some readers of the story say that he loves the girl greatly and that is why he wants to have the abortion. He does not want anybody to interfere with his love for her which is exactly what a baby would do. Other people view his act as selfish. They say that he would consider what her opinion is before making up his own mind, but it is obvious that he does not care what she thinks. Another major point of discussion in this story regarding the man is the ending. He can be viewed in several different ways a victor, loser, or someone who simply posses power over her. If he was the first one, she decided to go through with the abortion, if it was the middle one, she decided to keep the baby, and if it was the last one, she has not quite made up her mind, but does know that the man has great power over her and it is playing on her mind. However, the end is not clear; it is left inconspicuous so that the reader to make his or her own decision.





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