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Hills like White Elephants

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Short Writing Assignment #1: Summary

Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills like White Elephants" starts out with an American man and a girl whom he calls Jig sitting at a train station in Ebro waiting for their train to arrive. They decide to order two beers due to the hot weather and the man orders them in Spanish. Jig comments on the hills looking like white elephants. They have a small disagreement when the man says he has never seen a white elephant. She then asks the man if they can try a drink called Anis del Toro that she noticed was written on a beaded curtain. The mention that the drink tastes like licorice causes the two to jokingly bicker. The Man asks Jig to try and have a fine time, and she replies that she was trying. Jig goes on to comment that all they do is "look at things and try new drinks".

The climax of the story happens when the man and Jig continue to drink another beer and the man brings up the fact to Jig that the operation is "awfully simple" and "not really an operation at all". They never mention what the operation is but the fact that they are talking about an abortion is revealed when the man says "It's just to let the air in". Jig remains quiet while the man goes on about it being perfectly natural and the fact that he will stay with her the whole time. Jig expresses her concern for how they will be and feel afterward. The Man assures her that everything will be fine and that they will be happy, he knows many people that have done it. Also he goes on to remind Jig that she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to. Jig asks if he will be happy if she does it and he replies by saying he loves her. The Man reassures her a few times that it will be perfectly simple.

Jig starts talking about how she doesn't care about herself. The man tells her that he doesn't want her to do the operation if she feels like that. Jig gets up and looks across to the other side of the station and comments on how they could have everything. The man starts to bicker with her that they couldn't. He stops and asks her to come back into the shade. Jig then asks him to stop talking. They sit for a moment before the man resumes talking with the fact he only wants her to have the operation if she wants to, and once again that it is perfectly simple. Jig asks the man once again to stop talking. When he starts again Jig threatens to scream.

The two have a short lived moment of silence before the waitress comes out and reminds the two that the train is due in five minutes. The man takes the bags out to the train. Before returning he drinks an Anis at the bar by himself. The man returns to Jig and asks her if she feels better. She replies "There's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine".

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