Plot of the Story
Hills like white elephants is s story happening at the train station surrounded by natural beauty at a hill in Spain. The man who is called "American" is waiting with his girlfriend in a bench for a train to Madrid. As the man orders beers, the girl remarks the hills to look like white elephants as he comments; he has not seen one ever. The get drunk, and The American says he wants a girl to have an operation, to which the girl asks what will happen to her after that. She agrees on the condition that as the operation finishes they will live happily. The operation might here refer to some gigantic change he expects in her life by abortion. Both of them argue and then the girl makes the American promise to stop talking. After two more drinks, the bartender informs about the train's arrival. As the man picks the bags to the train, he ask how the girl is feeling. She says there is nothing wrong with her, and she feels fine.
Major Conflict In the Story
The most basic conflicts present in the short story by Hemingway is how two different people maintain a balance in the needs with the realities of life and relationships. They have different opinions in regards to how demands of personal freedom of two people vary in a relationship. Whatever idea they feel is best for their relationship must take care of what happens to them. As they both demand freedom and independence, there is also a realization that their relationship wants both their attention. In the end, the "American" feels that the relationship might end her freedom, and she accepts that whilst she looks at the hills that look like white elephants.
Position Of the Main Character
The American is the main character of the Hemingway's story. He is a knowledgeable and worldly man with high masculine attributes. He is in total control of himself. He initially avoids discussion of the problems of their relationship, and as the story moves further, he patronizes the girl. As the train approaches, the American feels connected to other passengers more than his girlfriend, which tells us that they will go different ways.
Plot And Character Traits
The story takes place amidst a valley. It is a stopping between Madrid and Barcelona. The travellers reaching here decide which way to go, which is metaphorical of what the two characters are experiencing in their relationship due to their two different outlooks to life. The girl is divided into the two aspects – to have a baby or have an abortion. As the two characters have entirely different opinions, there is a great possibility of the two going in two entirely different ways.
Another Possible Ending
If one reads the story carefully, it is not specific whether the girl gets an abortion or no. There is a hint that they both take different roads of life. It is possible that she might give in to his partner’s demands and does get the abortion to make herself more acceptable for him.
Hemingway, Ernest (2012). Hills Like White ELephants. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Pearson Education