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A Literary Criticism of Hills Like White Elephants

A Literary Criticism of "Hills Like White Elephants" I recently read the short story, "Hills Like White Elephants". Initially, I found it confusing and hard to understand. I hope to clarify the story by summarizing it, and explain the symbolism used. The story is set in a bar beside a train station. A couple sits together at a table discussing something that is unknown to the reader. The couple is enjoying a beer while awaiting their train. The young woman seems disconnected as she looks out over a line of hills and says, "They look like white elephants". This statement should set off an alarm in the mind of the reader. This statement and the title are symbolic to the meaning of the story. One must know that if one is given a white elephant then they are given an unwanted and useless gift. This leads the reader to believe that this is what the story is about. The couple continues to drink heavily which would also lead one to believe that they have something troubling them. As one continues reading, they are presented with a clue to the couple's problem. The man says, "You don't have to be afraid. I've known lots of people that have done it". He goes on to say, "If you don't want to you don't have to. I wouldn't have you do it if you didn't want to. But it's perfectly simple". This leads the reader to believe that, although it is the couple's problem, the woman holds all responsibility and the right to make the decision. The man and woman go back and forth with the argument. The man says things to the effect of, " I think its the best thing to do. But I don't want you to do it if you don't really want to". She replies, "And if I do it you'll be happy and things will be like they were and you'll love me? Again, this gives the reader the opinion that her decision, and her decision alone, will alter their life forever. As the story closes, she asks that they terminate the conversation. He takes their lugg...

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