The three main symbols are the hills, the white elephants and the rail road station. In the story, Jig looked at hills and said, “ They looked like white elephants. ” The man replied, “ I’ve never seen one. ” Then she replied, “No, you wouldn’t have. ” (line 9-11). The hills symbolize the big obstacles that we must climb, but are not enormous mountains. This represents the fact that the girl’s baby is a major obstacle in her life, but ti is not the end of her life and she will make it through. Hills are also viewpoints to look out from, but also block the view for those in the valley.
This represent how in the story Jig looks at the hills and sees opportunity, yuet at the same time the man looks at it and sees his vision of a positive and happy future blocked by the enormous obstacle of a child. Hills are also beautiful, natural and completely stationary. This shows that the baby will make them settle down and stay together. The author uses hills because pregnant mothers belly is a bit a hill itself. Being pregnant ties the mother down and makes her less mobile and more stationary.
The element of the white elephant is symbolic of the baby. A white elephant is a precious item that has a cost which perhaps surpasses it usefulness. Jig has received a gift which is, at this time in her life, useless to her. It is a gift that could be priceless to another. The white elephant also symbolizes the fact that the man said he has never seen white elephants before. This is because he is not open to considering the possibility of keeping the child and wants the girl to have the abortion procedure.
The rail road is symbolic of being at the crossroads of life during a time of crisis. The American man and the girl cannot stay at the station forever. They are travelling and there will be change. There must be a decision of where to go next. All of this is symbolic of the decision to keep the child or not. All travelling has a cost and so does the outcome of this decision. To either keep or abort the child is a costly decision. The young woman, Jig, shows herself to be very dependent upon her male counterpart throughout the story.
She asks for his input on even the simplest of tasks, such as the choice and number of her beverages. Her behavior can be interpreted to be a sign of insecurity more than anything else. Jig trusts his judgment, feels secure in his company and seems willing to do anything to keep him around. When pushed on the issue of the operation, Jig shows no real concern for her own health or mental well-being, stating categorically, "I don't care about me. " Jig's main concern is whether or not she can make her partner happy so that they will "Be all right and be happy. It is doubtful that Jig went through with the procedure with a clear conscience, which is why she was so insistent that they would not discuss the matter any further. “ Hills Like White Elephants” is a story about crisis. The American man and Jig the girl have a decision to make and there is no easy way out. Even making no decision is a decision. We all can easily relate to being in this type of situation. Hemingway, Ernest. “ Hills Like White Elephant” . " The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. 117-18. Print