The setting in Ernest Hemingway’s "Hills Like White Elephants". An analysis

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2021

15 Pages, Grade: 1,0

Abstract or Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to show that an analysis and interpretation of the topographical and architectural setting and of the objects within that setting in Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” which was published in 1927, provides a fruitful understanding of the short story. This paper investigates how Hemingway transforms topography into metaphors and symbols and how the setting creates the mood and sets the tone of the short story. “Hills Like White Elephants” is a paramount example of Hemingway’s so-called "iceberg theory". Similarly, Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” which is mostly told in dialogue, is like the tip of an iceberg—the succinct length and the seemingly simple language are deceptive. Analogously to Hemingway’s iceberg theory, there are concealed depths to the surface story. The fact that there are only a few sections in which the setting is described emphasizes that a close reading of the setting is necessary because the lack of description indicates that there is hidden meaning behind the overall setting. This paper argues that Hemingway uses the setting to demonstrate the struggle of the main characters, the American and the girl Jig, about whether to have an abortion—even though words such as ‘abortion’ or ‘pregnancy’ are not mentioned in the text. The paper argues that Hemingway integrates symbolism into the landscape and furthermore uses spatial concepts to convey meaning that goes beyond spatial information. The contrast between abortion or birth correlates with the dichotomy of the setting and is hence almost entirely expressed in spatial terms. Moreover, the descriptions of the setting reflect the couple’s contrasting points of view regarding the pregnancy. The paper aims to discover the implied and hinted meaning within the deceptive simplicity of the text by relying on narrative theory.


The setting in Ernest Hemingway’s "Hills Like White Elephants". An analysis
Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel  (Philosophische Fakultät - Englisches Seminar)
Narrative Theory and the Reading of Literary Texts
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Hemingway, setting, topographical, Hills Like White Elephants, short story, narrative space, iceberg theory, narrative, Literary studies, landscape, pregnancy, abortion, metaphor, boundary, variant opposition, dichotomy, HLWE, symbolism, spatial concepts, Literaturwissenschaft
Quote paper
Jella Delzer (Author), 2021, The setting in Ernest Hemingway’s "Hills Like White Elephants". An analysis, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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