Scholarly Debate - Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 27, 2012 2:24 AM GMT
    I recently read this short story again. Over time my interpretation over whether the girl decides to have "the operation" and whether she decides to stay with the American has evolved.

    Just wondering what fellow RJ members think and the reasons behind your conclusions.

    If you want to read the story, here is a link.

    http://www.asdk12.org/staff/grenier_tom/HOMEWORK/208194_Hills_Like_White_Elephants.pdf
  • calibro

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    May 27, 2012 6:58 AM GMT
    I don't think either question is important. I mean, it's impossible not to read a story like that and think what's going to happen next, but it doesn't mean there's an answer. Hemingway probably had an idea, but most writers will tell you that exact thing, I think I know what happens. The story is successful for the very reason that it doesn't want to answer those questions. Had it had a definitive resolution, it would lose its ethereal qualities and immediacy, which Hemingway was completely aware of, and that's why he decided not give it a specific resolution. As such, you can debate what happened next, but I don't find much merit in it.
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    May 27, 2012 7:08 AM GMT
    Yeah, I think the story is purposely ambiguous, but it's still an interesting question to consider. I've always felt that their relationship seems sort of doomed, whether she gets the operation or not. I think she probably will. It doesn't seem like she really wants the baby as much as she seems to want the American to want to have it with her. And I think she really just wants things to go back to the way they were before, but of course they can't. Anyway, that's my reading of it.
  • calibro

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    May 27, 2012 7:24 AM GMT
    and for the record, it's a hemingway story... in what world can it ever work out for a couple in love?
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    May 27, 2012 7:27 AM GMT
    Good point.
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    May 27, 2012 10:28 AM GMT
    Even though the ending is ambiguous and Hemingway almost certainly left it that way on purpose, I think there are things in the story, clues so to speak, that could support concluding the female character decides to have the abortion and continue the relationship, decides to have the abortion but end the relationship, decides not to have the abortion but will stay in the relationship, or decides not to have the abortion but end the relationship. I was just curious what others think make the stronger argument and the reasons for it. Like, near the end, when she smiles brightly and says there is nothing wrong with me, is she just putting on a game face because she is tired of arguing or has she relieved because she has reached a decision?
  • calibro

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    May 27, 2012 11:20 AM GMT
    JPtheBITCH saidI don't know this story but I'm not a fan of Hemingway altogether. It's very mannered and hasn't aged well at all.



    hemingway has had a resurgence... not that he was ever forgotten. whether people like his novels (i had a teacher who once aptly described his fiction as medicine... good in small doses), his short fiction has always been embraced by the cannon.
  • calibro

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    May 27, 2012 11:25 AM GMT
    JPtheBITCH said
    calibro said
    JPtheBITCH saidI don't know this story but I'm not a fan of Hemingway altogether. It's very mannered and hasn't aged well at all.



    hemingway has had a resurgence... not that he was ever forgotten. whether people like his novels (i had a teacher who once aptly described his fiction as medicine... good in small doses), his short fiction has always been embraced by the cannon.

    I slogged through many of the novels (English major after all) and the received wisdom in the 70s was that he was the Great Writer Of His Era, that Fitzgerald was a minor talent, and Gertrude Stein some sort of weird outlier.

    I find Fitzgerald far more interesting, and I think Stein is timeless. I also love her English equivalent, Edith Sitwell.


    hemingway i think is regarded as better than fitzgerald... but only overall. fitzgerald has the edge on novels. and stein, though completely ignored, is now revered as better than anyone of her age. she was decades ahead of her generation... even further so than many contemporary poets.
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    May 27, 2012 1:00 PM GMT
    Oh God, this takes me back to a traumatic time when everyone in my English class had to pretend to be an author and we had a roundtable discussion as those authors. I was Hemingway and talked about hunting and fishing and challenged people to armwrestle. The teacher asked me to discuss my writings and I said"Mommmm" and she gave me a D.
  • calibro

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    May 27, 2012 1:07 PM GMT
    Coach_Mike saidOh God, this takes me back to a traumatic time when everyone in my English class had to pretend to be an author and we had a roundtable discussion as those authors. I was Hemingway and talked about hunting and fishing and challenged people to armwrestle. The teacher asked me to discuss my writings and I said"Mommmm" and she gave me a D.


    hemingway hated his mother... and women in general. the correct answer would have been dad or moaning out fitzgerald's name as you did him in the butt.
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    May 27, 2012 1:10 PM GMT
    calibro said
    Coach_Mike saidOh God, this takes me back to a traumatic time when everyone in my English class had to pretend to be an author and we had a roundtable discussion as those authors. I was Hemingway and talked about hunting and fishing and challenged people to armwrestle. The teacher asked me to discuss my writings and I said"Mommmm" and she gave me a D.


    hemingway hated his mother... and women in general. the correct answer would have been dad or moaning out fitzgerald's name as you did him in the butt.


    No, I was in my mother's class. I just realized this thread was labeled Scholarly Debate. I have no more business being here than in a thread called Northern Asian People who love to go to the clubs and get drunk. Carry on, smart people....
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    May 27, 2012 4:27 PM GMT
    Coach_Mike said
    calibro said
    Coach_Mike saidOh God, this takes me back to a traumatic time when everyone in my English class had to pretend to be an author and we had a roundtable discussion as those authors. I was Hemingway and talked about hunting and fishing and challenged people to armwrestle. The teacher asked me to discuss my writings and I said"Mommmm" and she gave me a D.


    hemingway hated his mother... and women in general. the correct answer would have been dad or moaning out fitzgerald's name as you did him in the butt.


    No, I was in my mother's class. I just realized this thread was labeled Scholarly Debate. I have no more business being here than in a thread called Northern Asian People who love to go to the clubs and get drunk. Carry on, smart people....


    LOL! icon_lol.gif
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    May 27, 2012 4:29 PM GMT
    Hemingway was a closet case.