What Is The Theme Of Hills Like White Elephants

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It is common for writers to use certain details from their private lives in their compositions. In some cases, they directly state that the book or narrative is autobiographical. At other times, authors endow their protagonists with some vivid traits that apply to themselves. In addition, there are interesting instances when nothing in the story suggests a direct relationship with the author’s experience, but the audience is still able to recognize the connection. An excellent illustration of such a situation is Hemingway’s story “Hills Like White Elephants”. While the author does not provide a direct link between the narrative and his personal experience, a critical examination of the story and its reference to Hemingway’s biography reveals some apparent similarities.

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The theme of abortion in Hills Like White Elephants

The theme that first attracts attention in “Hills Like White Elephants” is the subject of abortion. Despite the fact that this word is never pronounced, the audience is aware of what it is about in the intense dialogue between the two protagonists. The white color of the hills is symbolically connected with the child that Jig is certain she will never carry. Therefore, it can be assumed that in his story Hemingway expressed his own approach to life in a certain way: he was not frightened to speak out and highlight even the most uncomfortable issues for consideration. And although the word “abortion” is not mentioned in the story, it is obviously understandable from the context.

The theme of masculinity in Hills Like White Elephants

One more thing that connects “Hills Like White Elephants” with the writer’s life is the theme of masculinity. The leading characters of the story are not inclined to marry and raise children, while Hemingway was married four times. The writer also fathered three sons by his first two wives, which may call into doubt the relevance of this theme to his biography. Both the writer and the American man in the story “Hills Like White Elephants” look for satisfaction in women, and both of them do not appear to regard women with enough attention, but typically neglect their needs. The man in the story is delighted to have fun with the girl, but does not want to keep dating her when he discovers that she is bearing their child together. Although he continues to say to her that “it’s really an awfully simple operation” and that they “will be fine afterward”, it is evident that things will never be the same. The American man in this way attempts to flee from the situation he finds himself in, persuading the girl that abortion is the most fundamental and most beneficial option for their couple.

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The relationship between the leading themes of Hills Like White Elephants and the personal life of Ernest Hemingway

There were no cases of abortion in Hemingway’s lifetime, but there may have been frequent cases when he made an escape. He left his first wife Hadley Richardson and child for Pauline Pfeiffer. He later left Pauline for Martha Gellhorn, who was later also abandoned for Mary Welsh. This sequence of separations is distinct from the sequence of behavior of the male protagonist in the story “Hills Like White Elephants”. Nevertheless, the intentions of both men in these cases are pretty close. They sought to find something better, to escape from dullness and obligations, to improve their own situation, regardless of the women in their lives. Just like every other male, Hemingway may have been questioning his masculinity and his capacity to support his women. Given this fact, it appears that the author could actually conceal his internal fears in the lines of the story. The American states that he has met many people who have “done it”, and Jig responds that they were “so happy” after that.

Meanwhile, one of the writer’s biographers notes that in spite of Hemingway’s views on women, he was an opponent of abortion. Dearborn points out that as Carol’s legal guardian; his sister Ernest denounced her when she requested some money for an abortion. Hemingway informed his sister that abortion was “murder” and insisted on the biological rather than the religious grounds. That is why “Hills Like White Elephants” can be regarded as a connecting link between the narrative and the writer’s life.


Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Hills Like White Elephants” has received worldwide recognition and has grown to become one of the most well-known works of the writer. However, it is not the subject alone that has brought it to the forefront of memories. Despite the fact that the story is relatively brief, it encompasses multiple dimensions tightly connected to the author’s personal life. The most notable of them are the themes of masculinity and abortion, which have some relation to Hemingway’s private life. Although there is no direct connection, there is consensus among critics and researchers that Hemingway’s opinions and concerns are broadly reflected in such an unusual story.

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