Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants” is a story about a conversation between two people. Yes, that’s it. Two people talking. I am not fooling you here; there is no trick or hidden meaning. We have two people, sitting at a train station, looking at things and trying new drinks, because that’s all they do.
Before you begin reading and analyzing this story, I would make one request of you: do not look for any information online. No Wikipedia, no SparkNotes, no Cliff Notes. I know that sometimes it can be easier or more helpful to do a bit of research to help you discern more from the literature, but this is a piece that I really, really want to know your individual thoughts on. The reason I say this is that learning the “critical consensus” of this story usually alters people’s understanding in a way that combines a great many cognitive biases (Framing Effect, Expectation Bias, Observer-Expectancy Effect, just to name a few).
With that in mind, please just read the story and let me know what you think. As you’re reading, consider the following:
- What is the relationship between these two characters?
- What the actual heck are they even talking about?
- What does this conversation actually accomplish, if anything?
This is a relatively longer piece, and I should think it will spawn many errant and perhaps nonsensical ideas, so you should have no problem reaching the default minimum word count of 300 words for this assignment.