"Hills Like White Elephants"

 
 
 
 
Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants" is considered by many critics to be about abortion. In order to understand this story, one needs to understand Hemingway's views on women, relationships, friends, and children. One also needs to understand Hemingway's artistic method and use of language, including the symbolism that is apparent in this story.

Hemingway can be classified as a modernist in fiction. Modernism is a term applied retroactively to certain literary and artistic trends at the beginning of the twentieth century. Modernism rejected traditions that existed in the nineteenth century and sought to stretch the boundaries, striking out in new directions and with new techniques. More was demanded of the reader of literature or the viewer of art. Answers were not presented directly to issues raised, but instead the artist demanded the participation of the audience more directly in elucidating meaning and in seeing the relationship between technique and meaning. In literature, writers developed new structures as a way of casting a new light on such accepted elements as character, setting, and plot. Much of modernist fiction shows this increased demand on the reader. Ernest Hemingway gives the illusion of moving in the other direction by simplifying language to the point where it seems ascetic, but in truth his language is complex in its way, building meaning into every word and the placement of every word much like poetry. The reader needs

     
 
 
 
    

 

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