Hills Like White Elephants- First Person Point of View
First Person Narrative (Jig)
I gazed at the hills across the valley of the Ebro. The longer I stared at them, the more I noticed how white the hills were, even more so with the bright and cloudless sky. They seemed to stretch forever too, and they almost looked like white elephants. It’s really a rather funny thought, but somehow it took heavy weight in my heart. It was a bothersome feeling I couldn’t get rid of, and as the days passed by it only got worse. The air was thick in the hot afternoon sun. It was rather blinding, though I barely felt it inside of the bar; the only shade on that side of the station with two lines of rails that ran parallel to the platform, one on either side of it. The express train from Barcelona would come in forty minutes to take us to Madrid. Yet it was as if the forty minutes had mastered the disguise of living as a second and an eternity. I stared at the hills again; they appeared longer this time. I took a deep breath. The less I thought about it, the easier it would be, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help but wonder what she or he would be like. To wonder if she’d have his eyes, the deepest blue of the sea; or if he’d have my smile, the one he’d use to get out of any troublesome situation.
Would she travel and drink all the absinthe and beer the world has to offer? He’d probably be as tall as he is, as demanding, and he too would have the chance to be a father like the man in front of me, and hopefully, he’d want to be. It was silly of me to think he’d want to keep it, to dream of a life that wasn’t defined by drinking and traveling. But why would he ever think of giving up that kind of life? To trade his own happiness for my own? If I go through with this he’d love me like he once did and things will go back to how they were. He wouldn’t leave me, would he? No, he loved me, definitely loved me, but maybe not enough. I mentioned the white elephants, even though I knew he’s probably never seen one. Of course, he never had.
“ I might have,” the man says,” Just because I say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything,”
But he didn’t say he wouldn’t have, he said he never had. He wouldn’t have argued over something so frivolous before. Then again, I wouldn’t have been so upset about this. Any day before this I would have laughed it off, and he would have laughed with me. I wanted to enjoy this moment, but I felt he didn’t care enough to be amused by me. I shouldn’t have mentioned the hills looking like elephants, how stupid.
After a while, we ordered another drink, and he droned on and on about the procedure as if he thought it would comfort me. He was always like this, pretending he knew everything, especially my thoughts and feelings. I suppose I didn’t mind. He always knew what was best for me. Or what was best for him? No, what was best for us.
“And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy?” I took deep breaths, focusing my eyes on anything but his face. I looked at the other side of the station, where fields of grain and trees ran along the banks of Ebro. Turning back I noticed the contrast to this side of the station, where everything was brown, almost barren. My heart felt heavy again. I took another sip of beer and gazed at the green fields on the other side.
“I know we will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it.”
“So have I,” I whispered. “And afterward they were all so happy.”
Happy. Were they really happy? Would this make us stronger? Happier? I looked back at all the places we had been, all the things we had done. Everything was a blur. It seemed like all we ever did was look at things and try new drinks. Was that really all we ever did? I reached my hand out to the curtain, feeling the bamboo beads between my hand.
“Well,” the man said, “if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.”
“And you really want to?” I ask him, my eyes searching for any signs of skepticism.
“I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.” I stared at the bamboo beads, that funny feeling I had before slowly creeping in again.
“And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?”
“I love you now. You know I love you.” The words felt as hollow as the bamboo I held in my hand. I knew I wouldn’t be the same person after these circumstances, neither would he, nor our relationship.
“I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll like it?’” I asked desperately because I wanted him to tell me things would be okay and mean it. He tells me, “I’ll love it. I love it now but I just can’t think about it. You know how I get when I worry.” I wanted to believe him, but I knew that nothing would be the same. It would be foolish of me to think everything could go back to being normal but could they? Of, course they could. That’s what he kept telling me. It’s simple. I’m doing this because he wants this; I want this. Do I really want this? She’d have my hair. He tells me that it’s not really an operation and that he’d be with me the entire time, but I don’t really care as long as things go back to the way they used to be. He would have his smile. As long as he keeps loving me, I’ll be fine. He’s still talking, why is he still talking? It’s so hot in here, I’m so sweaty. The train won’t be long; one more beer and I’ll be fine.
Comparing Point of Views
Multiple factors such as setting, plot, and theme contribute to the outcome of a story. However, one may argue that the narration of the story definitely has a hand in its final result. In Hills Like White Elephants, Ernest Hemingway uses objective third person point of view to narrate an exchange of dialogue between a man and a girl addressing an abortion that may or may not happen. However, at first, the reader would most likely be confused with the dialogue and have no idea what the story is about, to begin with. This was probably done in order for the reader to be immersed in the environment rather than the characters. Interestingly, Hemingway also takes advantage of third-person narrative in order to focus the reader’s attention on the conversation, offering a more nuanced version of each character’s perspective.Nevertheless, by rewriting the narrative in first person point of view from the girl, the reader is able to have a better understanding of the tension in the dialogue between the man and the girl. Therefore, the point of view of a story is vital because it affects how much a reader knows, what they focus on when analyzing the story, and the character’s internal struggle. the internal conflict of the character, and their emotions.
Point of view contributes to how much the reader knows about anything and anyone in the story being told. In Hills Like White Elephants the reader is able to recognize a tension between a man and a girl speaking about an operation. For example, after trying Anis del Toro, the girl comments on the drink by saying, “ I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it- look at things and try new drinks?” (Hemingway) This line may appear to be meaningless at first glance, but after finishing the story it becomes apparent how important it is when placed in context to the situation given. The girl is more than torn about having to abort her child but is even open to the change that would happen if she kept it. She realizes how linear their relationship actually is, and now that she is with a child it’s clear to her how superficial and in a way, fleeting their lives were, and that maybe a baby would give it more meaning. It is on complete contrast to how the man feels since he doesn’t want any change, evident in how he responds to the girl by saying, “ I guess so,” a response that is rather unfazed. In this way, the reader has to think about the theme of the story, without actually saying it. Instead of outright telling us that this whole situation is the result of an unborn baby repelled by a partner threatened by change, Hemingway cleverly uses third person narrative to give little hints as to what is going on between the two main characters. The clues are scattered throughout, especially in the conversations with the man and the girl. It can also be noted how the narrator in Hemingway’s version has very little presence. Instead, the spotlight is turned to the conversations of the two characters. However, with the point of view changed to the first-person narrative, there is more attention on the thoughts of the girl than the actual conversation she is having with her partner. In the retelling of the story, the same line is used, but not in conversation,“ Will this make us stronger? Happier? I looked back at all the places we had been, all the things we had done. Everything was a blur. It seemed like all we ever did was look at things and try new drinks. Was that really all we ever did?” By translating her lines into inner thoughts, the words she said are given more emotion, while not giving away too much. Her narration shows how unsure she is, and how it is affecting her emotionally. When she asks those questions, she is more or less wondering if the operation will be worth it, or if their relationship was an illusion all along. Additionally, the reader is also able to understand the severity of the decision that she’s to make. This comes to show how the point of view creates a better picture of their circumstances and therefore affects how much the reader knows and understands from the narrative.
Point of view can also change what readers focus on when analyzing the story. Hemingway is aware of this since he takes moments in between dialogue to describe the setting of the story. This is evident in the first paragraph of the story, where the background or setting of the story is introduced first, rather than the characters. After the characters are introduced, it isn’t clear what their names are until the male protagonist mentions the girl’s name. Even then, the man is never introduced by his name, but rather, he is simply called the “ American man”. Hemingway does this particularly to show how the environment surrounding the protagonists symbolize the tension growing between the two characters. For example, in Hills Like White Elephants, after a long conversation with her partner, the woman walks to the other side of the station, which is described like this, “Across the other side were fields of grain and trees along the banks of Ebro.” (Hemingway). The fertile ground on the other side is a comparison to the choice the girl has to make since abundance in nature, is often used as a symbol for fertility in women. In the retelling, the girl looks at the other side, “I look at the other side of the station, where fields of grain and trees ran along the banks of Ebro. Turning back I notice the contrast to this side of the station, where everything is brown, almost barren. My heart feels heavy again. I take another sip of beer and gaze at the green fields on the other side”. The girl is now gazing at the other side while contemplating on her decision, linking nature and her own life together. Yet the artificial “shade” of the bar shields her from the reality of the situation.
Throughout the narration the girl named Jig internally struggles with deciding whether or not to go through with the operation; However, Hemingway’s narration doesn’t make it as noticeable as the rewritten version does. She’s aware that regardless of what happens, things will never go back to how they once were. In the rewritten narration, repetition is utilized to accentuate the reassurance Jig seeks from the man she’s with and her decision about the operation. For example, “He was always like this, pretending he knew everything, especially my thoughts and feelings. I suppose I didn’t mind. He always knew what was best for me. Or what was best for him? No, what was best for us.” shows that she’s pretty certain that once the operation is done with that he’s going to leave her because she becomes overwhelmed by her fear of abandonment and her hunger for his love. In addition to repetition, Jig wanders back and forth between deciding to go through with the abortion and imagining an alternate lifestyle of how her daughter or son would grow up to be, in the rewritten version it says, “He tells me that it’s not really an operation and that he’d be with me the entire time, but I don’t really care as long as things go back to the way they used to be. He would have his smile.” By demonstrating her thought process the reader is able to see how vulnerable and uncertain she is about the situation she’s placed in. She attempts to reassure herself by coping with beers, which also reflects on her lifestyle with the man, and therefore brings to question if she’s ready to leave it behind. Regardless, having the story narrated in first person point of view gives the reader a better understanding of the girl’s thought process and therefore helps sympathize with her unstable emotions.
There are different kinds of Points of View in which a story can be told. Generally speaking, the third point of view is when a story is told using “he” or “she” and “him” or “her” rather than “me” and “I”. Whether or not the story has insight into the character’s thoughts or feelings solely depends on what type of third person point of view, whether it’s omniscient or limited. Omniscient refers to all knowing, therefore insinuating knowing the thoughts and feelings of all characters, and limited point of view read refers to knowing the thoughts and feelings of one character, a selected few or none at all. The first point of view is when the characters use the word “I”, “me”, or “mine”, in other words, anything that indicates that the story is being told by the character themselves. Ernest Hemingway wrote Hills Like White Elephants in a third person point of view to provoke thought and observation of context clues. However, the vagueness of the story simply leads to confusion and misunderstandings. By rewriting the story in the first point of view from the girl, the reader is able to grasp a better concept of what the story is about and is able to reach a new level of emotional understanding. Therefore, this comes to show how the point of view plays a vital role in the outcome of a narrative.
Part 1: Retelling ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’
I watch a woman sitting in this room quickly scribbling words into her journal, she always seems to be in a big rush when she’s writing. Everytime someone comes into the room she quickly hides the journal away from them like it is forbidden.
One day her husband came in and said to her
“ You’ve got to stop focusing on you’re illness, It’s not helping you get any better, try to focus on something else” She responded “Your right, I need to take my mind off of it.”
Then something came through me like a surge, but it felt like a surge of restrictions.
The next day the she was just wandering around the room looking at things and writing about them, but when she came towards me it seemed like she kept looking at me, not sure what or who I was, but she knew I was there.
I could see the look in her face. It seemed like we both felt the same way restricted and trapped. Everytime I see this woman she seems to be in this room alone, without a person insight unless it’s her husband or the lady that seems to be doing all her housework while she follows her husbands resting rules.
She never stopped looking around the room as she wrote. It seemed like it irked her, like she couldn’t think what she wanted to think but had to focus on the furniture around her. But when she looked towards me she never stopped. She would stare a hole right through me and the longer she looked at me the more I felt I had a connection with her. I’ve watched this women sit in this room for weeks lonely and depressed, and the only times I see anyone coming into the room to talk to her is when they’re coming to tell her what to do, and what she’s doing is wrong. The longer she looked at me through these walls the more I realized that she’s not ill. She’s silenced by her oppressors, she isn’t allowed to express herself to anyone. She’s been sitting in this room all this time trying to make connections with me and oddly enough I feel her pain. But yet she is still confused when she stares at me not sure of what she sees.
I started to feel that this woman and I are very much the same person, i feel all the limitations that her husband has out on her and how it’s made her nervous illness worse. The room and her writing are the only sources of freedom that she has. The closest thing to an interactions with someone from the outside world is me.
But she still doesn’t realize that the world around her is ruining, and all of the things her husband has told her to do that would make her feel better has only made matters worse. There is no one that can tell her this but me.
I must get out, I need to help her become one with with her true self, and get rid of the restrictions , as for I too feel burrowed in the quicksand of her depression.
I try to show myself to her. I go around the house when no one else is around to grab her attention. I show her that I am trapped and I need her to break me free. I shake the patterns on the wall to show her that I am being caged in and the wallpaper keeps me from coming out.
Then she starts tearing off the wallpaper off, slowly breaking me free. Once she tore off the last strand of the wallpaper I was able to come out and be free, She looked at me with a shocked look and told me
“ You’re me”
And then I finally understood why I felt her pain. I am her lost self, I am the piece of her that she can’t express all of those built up emotions.
Then I tell her”We are finally together, and there isn’t anyone that can separate us again”
Then John came in and said”What is all that noise” and after a moment of looking into the room he fell unconscious and we tell him
“ We’ve got out at last, and we’ve pulled off all the wallpaper so you can put us back.”
The original version of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman shows the how the protagonist was not allowed any creative freedom or expression, and how that slowly drove her crazy to the point where her imagination took complete control of her. My retelling of the story is from the point of view of the woman she sees in the wallpaper, and show the reader how both characters change together.
In the original Iteration of the story the protagonist has many limitations or restrictions put on her by her husband and she can’t express her true thoughts to him. She asked him for some company and he denies her saying she needs rest and no social interactions with people and tells her to stop focusing on her illness and focus on other things. This is when my narrator is truly “birthed”. In my retelling of the story these restrictions keep making the woman in the wallpaper more and more noticable for the protagonist.
“Then something came through me like a surge, but it felt like a surge of restrictions.
The next day the she was just wandering around the room looking at things and writing
about them, but when she came towards me it seemed like she kept looking at me,
not sure what or who I was, but she knew I was there.”(My iteration of The Yellow Wallpaper)
In the original version the protagonist tries to show in her writings that her husbands rules for her resting aren’t making her any better and are hurting her more than helping her.
“I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So I will let it alone and talk about the house.”
(The Yellow Wallpaper, Charles Perkins Gilman)
The narrator interrupts her own train of thought because starts to remember John’s instructions. So she forces herself to focus on the things around her. The protagonist embraced her husband’s authority to the point that she imagines him telling her what to think.She cant help herself but feel bad so she stats focusing on the house instead of her situation, the protagonist slowly starts her slide into obsession and madness. The irony in this segment there is a lot of with the protagonist ‘condition’ that its both her depression and her condition in general within her oppressive marriage.
In my interation of the story the woman in wallpaper grows stronger and becomes more whole when the protagonist starts to become more and more affected by her oppressive marriage.
“I could see the look in her face. It seemed like we both felt the same way restricted and trapped. Everytime I see this woman she seems to be in this room alone, without a person insight unless it’s her husband or the lady that seems to be doing all her housework while she follows her husbands resting rules.”(My iteration of The Yellow Wallpaper)
She starts to feel more connected to the protagonist the more she looks into the wallpaper were the woman is trapped. She feels more and more what the protagonist feels when they stare at each other. After a while the woman in the wallpaper cannot watch the protagonist suffer anymore
“But she still doesn’t realize that the world around her is ruining, and all of the things her husband has told her to do that would make her feel better has only made matters worse. There is no one that can tell her this but me. I must get out, I need to help her become one with with her true self, and get rid of the restrictions , as for I too feel burrowed in the quicksand of her depression.”(My iteration of The Yellow Wallpaper)
The woman in the wallpaper makes the protagonist into breaking her free in where when she did she unleashed the side of her that she couldn’t show to anyone.
The original version and my iteration have two different narrators whos stories still revolve around the same protagonist. I tried to show a better connections between the protagonist and her lost self that has been trapped for a long time and that they show that when they are together they have a powerful meaningful voice something the protagonist didn’t have when she followed her husbands commands
Part 1 – Narration Change
“Mrs. Mallard!” called out Richards, a friend of my husband from the living room. My sister Josephine helped me get up from the wooden chair I was sitting on while eating my breakfast. My heart is weak and isn’t what it used to be.
Josephine helped me sit on the brown leather sofa. Josephine and Richards sat across me with worried looks on their faces. Josephine held out her hand and held mine. I could feel the warmth and humidity of her hand. There was something she was nervous about.
“Sister…” began Josephine.
“Richards was at the newspaper office when the news came in that a train was derailed…” Josephine took a deep breath. She could barely look at me at this point.
“…and Brently’s name was listed among those who were killed.”
As soon as the last word left her mouth, I threw myself into Josephine’s arms and wept uncontrollably. My husband was dead. The man who I built so many memories with was taken from me.
We embraced for some time until my tears were spent. I kissed Josephine on the cheek and gave her a passionate hug. I stood up and began to make my way back to my room.
“Sister, where are you going?” asked Josephine with worry in her voice.
“I want to spend some time in my room,” I replied. Josephine began to get up from her seat in an attempt to accompany me.
“I wish to be alone, Josephine.” She sat back down with a worried look on her face.
I closed the door behind me as I gazed at the open window. In front of it, an armchair. Into this armchair I sat, nearly being swallowed by it. I laid my eyes upon the city outside of the window. I could see the tops of the green trees moving caused by the warm spring winds. In the distance, I could hear vendors selling their goods and the songs of both passerbys and birds.
As I fixated on the small patches of blue sky that littered the grey, cloudy patchwork visible through the window, an overwhelming desire to cry washed over me. I succumbed to the desire as I stared blankly at the blue patches, with tears once again beginning to run down my cheek.
Something began to form in the skies. I couldn’t tell what it was but it began to reach towards me. As it drew closer, it became more and more familiar. I attempted to resist it but my will, just like my body, was in no position to fight and it quickly broke through my defenses. “Free”, I murmured, almost subconsciously. “Free, free, free!”. The sweet words flowed like a river.
I took a deep breath and now I could think clearly. I will soon have to look at Brently’s gentle face for the final time. Brently had always treated me fairly during our marriage but my passions, ideas, and dreams, were always a second priority. I began to think further ahead. Think further ahead to when I could finally be able to live on my own terms. To be allowed to follow my passions, ideas, and dreams.
These thoughts filled me with an immense sense of hope that flowed through my body. Finally, I would be in control of my life. “Free! Body and soul free!” I whispered.
Suddenly, a knock came from the door. “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door — you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door.” pleaded Josephine from behind the door.
“Go away. I am not making myself ill, feeling better than ever before as I said this. I quickly recited a prayer asking the Lord to give me a long life, in contrast to my thoughts from a few days ago. My fragile heart could mean a shorter time on this earth, so I asked the Lord to lend me some time.
I just about sprung out of the armchair and with a newfound pep in my step, I walked to the door and twisted the handle. I saw Josephine standing there and couldn’t help but to smile. We were sisters but after my marriage to Brently, Josephine and I barely spent any time together. The duty of a housewife always kept me busy and unable to have time to be with friends and family. Now would be the time to make up for lost time.
We made our way to the stairs, with Josephine holding my waist, we descended the stairs to meet Richards, who was waiting at the bottom of the stairs.
I kept a close eye on each step I took, careful not to slip. I heard the door begin to open but my eyes were still fixated on the stairs. Then I heard Josephine let out a ear piercing shriek and had no choice but to break my concentration and look at the door.
It was Brently with a confused look on his face as Richards attempted to block his entrance into his own home. I was glad to see Brently alive and well but this meant the death of my dreams and aspirations. My freedom was stripped of me and the bonds of an unfair marriage were placed on me once again. The weight of this realization caused my knees to buckle. I collapsed and briefly felt the cold floor against my head as I looked at the lights above. I closed my eyes to visit where my dreams and aspirations now rested.
Part 2 – Comparing Narration Styles
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is a fictional short story that centers around Mrs. Mallard, a woman who had just found out about the death of her husband, Brently Mallard, she is devastated at first but her sorrow soon turns into joy when she realizes that she is finally free from the bonds of marriage, bonds that prevented her from following her dreams and forced her into living for others. The story is written in a limited third-person narration. The narrator sees every event but mainly focuses on a single character, in which they have access to their thoughts. I decided to rewrite the story in first-person, from the perspective of Mrs. Mallard.
Although Chopin mainly writes about Mrs. Mallard’s realization that she is now free, I chose to focus more on Mrs. Mallard’s relationship between her husband and her sister, adding in dialogue, and to add what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking when she saw her husband again.
At the beginning of the story, immediately after receiving the news of her husband’s death, Chopin writes this: “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.”.
I wanted to add more detail to Mrs. Mallard’s grief so I wrote the following: “ I threw myself into Josephine’s arms and wept uncontrollably. My husband was dead. The man who I built so many memories with was taken from me.
We embraced for some time until my tears were spent. I kissed Josephine on the cheek and gave her a passionate hug. I stood up and began to make my way back to my room.”.
I made this change because I wanted to make it clearer that Mrs. Mallard did truly love her husband. I also made the addition of dialogue because I felt that would make the characters a little more personal.
Following the initial tears of losing her husband, Mrs. Mallard retreats to her room and that is when and where she rediscovers her freedom. Her marriage had restricted her so much but with Mr. Mallard’s death, that was no longer the case. I didn’t change much from the original story, only a few minor detail changes. What I did change/add was Mrs. Mallard’s thinking.
In Chopin’s story, she wrote the following: “She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs.”.
There is no mention of Mrs. Mallard’s feeling towards her sister so I wanted to add some in to make them seem closer. I wrote “… I walked to the door and twisted the handle. I saw Josephine standing there and couldn’t help but to smile. We were sisters but after my marriage to Brently, Josephine and I barely spent any time together. The duty of a housewife always kept me busy and unable to have time to be with friends and family. ”.
I included that part because I wanted to flesh out Mrs. Mallard’s relationships more and because I wanted to show the reader how excited Mrs. Mallard had become with her new outlook on life now that she was getting over the death of her husband.
Now we reach the end of the story and the end of Mrs. Mallard’s life. Chopin chooses writes the death of Mrs. Mallard with no insight into her thoughts at the time.
“ Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills.”.
Chopin decides to end the story soon after Mrs. Mallard lays eyes on her supposedly dead husband and offers little insight into the thoughts of the former widow after the surprise. I wanted to linger more on her death and to add what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking before she died. I wrote: “It was Brently with a confused look on his face as Richards attempted to block his entrance into his own home. I was glad to see Brently alive and well but this meant the death of my dreams and aspirations. My freedom was stripped of me and the bonds of an unfair marriage were placed on me once again. The weight of this realization caused my knees to buckle. I collapsed and briefly feeling the cold floor against my head while I looked at the lights above. I closed my eyes to visit where my dreams and aspirations now rested.”.
I added this part in because I wanted to show what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking when she saw her husband alive again, to make Mrs. Mallard a little more personal.
In terms of what was lost and what was gained from a change of narration type, there isn’t a world of difference. In the original story, we learn that Richards (Mr. Mallard’s friend) double-checked to make sure if Mr. Mallard was actually killed. In my version, this part is omitted entirely. So we lose insight into events that were beyond Mrs. Mallard’s view, switching to first-person.
What we gain is the characters become more personal through dialogue. Since we see through the eyes of Mrs. Mallard, the conversation may seem more personal. In addition, in my version, we get to see that Mrs. Mallard’s marriage had unfortunately kept her and her sister separate.
In conclusion, “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin, is a story written in a limited third-person narration. I chose to rewrite the story in first-person, from the view of Mrs. Mallard. Chopin chooses to focus on Mrs. Mallard’s realization that she is free from a restrictive marriage, while I chose to focus on more on the relationship between Mrs. Mallard and her sister and her husband, adding dialogue, and to add what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking when she saw her husband alive.
The Importance of Communication
John and his wife, (Aria) are staying in a colonial mansion for a short period of time. John is a physician and doesn’t believe that his wife is sick, although she feels as if she is. Aria always thinks about her illness which sometimes makes her feel exhausted, so John informed her that the worst thing she could do was think about her condition. Instead of thinking about her condition she focuses on the aspects of the house.
The house is three miles from the village and stands well from the road. She describes it as the most beautiful place and very quiet. The house has a large and shady garden full of box-boarded paths and lined with grape covered arbors. There were also greenhouses, but they were all destroyed. Although the house had delightful aspects. She felt as if there was something strange within the house.
The first room that they had moved into wasn’t satisfying her, so they moved into the nursery which was more spacious, airy, contained more windows, and more sunshine. The paper on the wall was stripped off in great patches and in bad condition. The color was a very dull, unclean, repulsive yellow. Aria was quite fond of the room except for the wallpaper. Since they were only staying in the house for three months John didn’t see any reason to change the wallpaper.
She informed him that she wasn’t comfortable with the wallpaper but instead of getting rid of it he convinced her that it was fine, so she stopped complaining so she wouldn’t make him uncomfortable, but she still had the feeling in the back of her head.
Usually when she’s alone she takes walks in the garden and sits on the porch. She’s starting to actually love the room that she’s in despite the wallpaper. The wallpaper is usually the one thing that stays on her mind throughout the day. She spends time analyzing the wallpaper and finding out the pattern and seeing how the wallpaper connects diagonally and goes horizontally. She often does this until she is exhausted, but it makes her feel relieved.
As the days go by the patterns and shapes starts to get clearer to her. She realizes that the shapes are the same only very numerous. She then starts to see woman creeping out from behind the pattern. She now starts to freak out and tries to tell her husband about the problem, but he convinced her that she is getting better and recovering from her illness when in all reality she is not.
Each day and night, his wife is examining the wallpaper. There’s things there that no one else seems to notice but her, like how the outside pattern is florid arabesque, which reminds her of a fungus, and even when it changes when the light changes. She even compares it to an interminable string of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless convolutions.
She notices how when it’s the night time, and the moonlight, candle light, and lamplight come on, the lady behind the wallpaper is completely clear. She was 100% sure that there was a lady there and indeed she was trapped.
She now recognizes that the pattern on the wall actually moves and the women behind the wall is actually the one shaking it. She sometimes thinks that there’s only one woman or more than one and she’s crawling all over to shake it.
John feels as is Aria is improving with her mental health but what he doesn’t know is that it is worsening.
John ends up walking into the room with the yellow wallpaper all over the floor to find out that his wife has let the woman free then later passes out.
The Yellow Wallpaper vs. The Importance of Communication
The text I chose to use in my project is, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In the original copy of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrative point of view is first person, so I chose to rewrite my version in the third person omniscient point of view. I wanted to make the audience get the general idea of the story which is why I chose third person omniscient to get into the heads of all the characters to really portray how they felt throughout the story. Although in the original version of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator conveys dominance in a relationship but in my retelling, I use a third person omniscient narrative to highlight the importance of undivided attention in a marriage.
In the beginning of my retelling, I decided to keep up the same order of the story. I started off with introducing John and his wife and stated her sickness and the aspects of the house just like in the original version. “John and his wife, (Aria) are staying in a colonial mansion for a short period of time. John is a physician and doesn’t believe that his wife is sick, although she feels as if she is. Aria always thinks about her illness which sometimes makes her feel exhausted, so John informed her that the worst thing she could do was think about her condition. Instead of thinking about her condition she focuses on the aspects of the house.” In this quote, (in my retelling), I narrowed down the important parts of the beginning of the story. “It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer. A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity, — but that would be asking too much of fate! Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it. Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted? John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage. John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in ﬁgures. John is a physician, and perhaps— (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)— perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus— but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So, I will let it alone and talk about the house.” Now in this quote in the original copy, the author goes into description on how John and his wife moves into a house for a few months and how she feels about the house. The similarities with this quote and my quote is how I focused on the wife having an illness and John basically not dwelling on it and denying that she is sick.
“Usually when she’s alone she takes walks in the garden and sits on the porch. She’s starting to actually love the room that she’s in despite the wallpaper. The wallpaper is usually the one thing that stays on her mind throughout the day. She spends time analyzing the wallpaper and finding out the pattern and seeing how the wallpaper connects diagonally and goes horizontally. She often does this until she is exhausted, but it makes her feel relieved. As the days go by the patterns and shapes starts to get clearer to her. She realizes that the shapes are the same only very numerous. She then starts to see woman creeping out from behind the pattern.” Throughout my retelling, I focused more on the description of the house and the women in the wallpaper. I wanted to show my audience the reason as to why John’s wife was so hypnotized by the house which led her to her breaking point in the story. I didn’t want to focus on her illness as much as the author did in the original version or the dominance in that marriage. “Dear John! He loves me very dearly and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day and tell him how I wished he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia. But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had ﬁnished. It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight. Just this nervous weakness, I suppose. And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed and sat by me and read to me till he tired my head. He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake and keep well. He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let my silly fancies run away with me” In the original story the author talks about her having the illness and her husband basically telling her what to do in a way of dominance. She basically respects everything her husband tells her because she trusts him.
In conclusion, in the original version, the author uses a first-person narrative and in my retelling, I used the third person omniscient narrative to give my audience a different perspective of the story.
Part 1: Retelling (Final Draft)
“Hills Like White Elephants”
Jigs was describing the beautiful scenery across the distance, she said “the hills and mountain appears to look like white elephants”, as she sat at the Spanish train station across from Jill’s. The man was hoping that his girlfriend was having a great time, but she doesn’t seem to be. She suddenly repeated herself again to get his attention, she said “the mountains looks like white elephants”.
The mountains appears to be bright as white elephants as described by Jigs. It was breathtaking and grabbed both of their attentions as they stared at it across from the distance. Jigs wanted to try some new drinks, and that’s all she felt like doing, is look at things and try new drinks. Jigs looked across the hills and notice how lovely they were to her. Although it seems as if they don’t really appear to look like white elephants to the man.
They continue to have another drink, as the warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table, Jigs and the man continue to enjoy their cold drinks. The man was trying to convince Jigs how simple it would be if she had the operation done, but Jigs insisted it wasn’t just a simple operation, and she looked at the ground where the tables legs rested on. He continue to comfort and explains how easy the operation is going to be if she had it done. Jigs was silent, she had too much on her mind, and didn’t say a word after that.
The man was so convinced that this is all going to be a simple operation, and explains to her that all they’re going to do is put some air in, and it will all be alright afterward. Jigs was feeling nervous and pressure to having the operation. He insisted that she had this operation done, and promises that afterward they would be happy again, just like they did before. Jigs had a tough time processing the decision, and she doesn’t know what to do.
The man then tells her that this is the only thing that is keeping them from being happy. Without saying a word she look at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of the beads, then she asked him “will everything be alright”, “and will they be happy after this”. He told her everything will be alright and they will be happy after she had the operation done.
Jigs was nervous and feeling pressure, but he remained her that everything will be alright, and that he knows a lot of people who had this done before. She was still not convinced about the operation, and asked him many question as she was afraid to having it done. At that point he decide to stop convincing her, and told her that she doesn’t need to have this done if she didn’t want to.
He calmly explains to her that he didn’t want her to do anything that she wouldn’t want. But he was still convince to tell her that it would be a simple operation. She feeling pressure that he really wants her to go have this operation. This operation seem to be the only thing that’s on the man mind. She now feels the motivation to have the operation done only if it meant to make the man happy. Jigs knows that he would be more happy and loves her more if she had it done.
Jigs was convinced if she had it done everything will be alright, and that he’ll love her like he loved when she say things are white like elephants, the man then said he’ll love it. But he can’t be worrying about that right now. she didn’t want him to worry about the operation, so she insisted if she had it done that he’ll stop worrying about it. but it doesn’t appear that the man was worry about Jigs having the operation done, because he knows it was all a simple operation.
Finally, Jigs had decided to get the operation done. She would get it done only because she doesn’t care about herself, and her own body. The man felt frustrated that she doesn’t care about herself. She repeated herself telling him that she doesn’t care about herself. He didn’t want her to say those things about herself. He told her that he cares about her, even if she doesn’t care for herself.
Jigs wants to get the operation done and over with so that they can be happy in the end, but he told her he didn’t want her to do it if she didn’t care about herself and her decision. She stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grains and she saw the river through the trees.
Part 2: Thinking About Retelling (Final Draft)
The new version of “Hills Like White Elephants” written by Ernest Hemingway is a third person omniscient narrative style. In the original version of “Hills Like White Elephants”, the author used a third person objective narration style. Which lets the narrator knows what the characters say, see, and do. On the other hand, a third person omniscient allows the narrator to have access to what the characters, say, see, do and think. So by changing it to a third person omniscient, it allow the narrator to have access oo knowing what the characters feeling and thoughts.
Comparing the differences between the old version and the new version is, the old version was written mainly in dialogue, which in my opinion makes it harder to read. On the other hand the new version is written so that is separated into smaller section, and is in third person which means the narrator is the only person in the story that is speaking. The new version is easier to understand because the narrator is telling us what is happening in the story. Rather then the first version the narrator was only telling us what the characters are saying and doing, and not really telling us what was happening within the story, and leaves us confuse to what the story is mainly about.
“Hills Like White Elephants” written by Ernest Hemingway, is a third person objective narrative style, the narrator used the “fly-on-the-wall” technique to write the story. In the story it didn’t tell us what the characters were thinking, it only show what the characters do, see, and say in the story. Since the story was put together in the past tense we can assume that the author wrote the story base from memories, which makes it a bit confusing for the reader to piece the story together. The original version had lots of metaphor, and symbolic terms, which the new version lacks.
The theme that stuck out from the original version is the languages and communication style that was used. The story was converted into translation from spanish to english, and the author mainly did this for his english readers, mostly focusing on translating what jigs was saying. I choose third person omniscient as a narrative style for this story, because the original version was mostly written in dialogue, which was harder to read. An example would be making it harder to tell which character is speaking. On the other hands it was clear to tell when the narrator was speaking. The story was complicated to piece together, because we didn’t understand what the characters were thinking, and what was it they’re talking about, such as the operation. It’s kind of almost like recording a conversation between two people.
The narrator tells us the surrounding of the place, and what the characters say. But doesn’t allow us to know what’s going on between the two characters, or what was it the conversation was about. In the original version on page two, at the top quote “‘Then what will we do afterwards?’‘We’ll be fine afterwards. Just like we were before.’‘What makes you think so?’” In this quote it didn’t allow the reader to understand Jigs emotion and feeling, or what’s going on in her mind. On the other hand, from the new version with the third person omniscient, “Jigs was nervous and feeling pressure, but he remained her that everything will be alright, and that he knows a lot of people who had this done before.” This gives more details to how Jigs was feeling during that conversation.
Part 1: Retelling: Trapped Behind Deceit
“Why, why me?” I said. “What is it, little girl?” John said. “Don’t go walking about like that–you’ll get cold.” “Little girl? John why do you continue to do this to me?” I said. But I knew that they couldn’t hear me, mostly because I need to be me, not behind this wallpaper of deceit and it’s not like I can just come out and walk around at this time, especially with John home. I try sticking my head through these bars anyway but as John continues to speak he traps me in again. Cutting off my head which is now lifeless. I’m still alive though, another head comes out of my body.
I try one more time, sticking my head through the changing bars, trying to get out in one try. But then as I look at the clueless me with John, she seemed startled a little after he looked at her with such a stern , reproachful look. There goes another one of my heads. These patterns are way too heavy and crowded. “YES!” I thought to myself , “The patterns are going to become less complex.” “If she would recognize that at night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and the best of all by moonlight, the complex pattern prision shows as just bars from the outside. John is asleep, the moonlight shines on the wallpaper. “Now is my chance” I thought, “I’m going to have to use our fear to shape myself.” I could only gathered a little of fear to create the outline of my body, hope that was enough for her to recognize herself. I did see when she caught John and Jennie investing their energy into making sure the patterns and bars were still strong to keep me locked in. Jennie did realize that I would leave clues of deceit on her clothes and John’s for me to let her know that I need to save myself. I do it mostly in the daytime, there’s another me that travels outside of the wallpaper with the other me outside of the wallpaper, like a spirit would. It will leave a smell that would remind her of deceit, the wallpaper, while making sure I don’t stand out too much. So I will creep. “I will not let myself forget for even a second, the reason we are trapped in the first place.” I said to myself. Throughout the day I’ll have the spirit leave the color all around the place. It is now night, the moonlight is shining on part of the wallpaper, “Another chance!” I said to myself. I wanted to get the heck out of here so I started shaking the bars as hard as I could. She’s looking at me, “I think she could see me” I thought. I continue to shake wildly, “I’m tired of these bars. GET ME OUT OF HERE!” I yelled, knowing no one can even hear me. The other part of the wallpaper that is shady from lack of moonlight, I stand still from my others’ feeling of John’s judgment. I know that I am now more invested in letting myself free, she’s neglecting John’s looks. “I can feel it, she cares less about them.” I said, feeling a sense of, “I can soon finally be free.” John was asking her some questions but the clothes he were wearing had some of the color on him. Jennie’s trying her best to try to keep me tamed by wanting to sleep with me, there was color on her too. She looked at the smooch on her clothes, “Get away from her.” trying to tell myself. She told Jennie she would rest better alone tonight. She came towards the cage and started peeling the cage off. “Come on! Help get me out of here. Come on!” I said eagerly, while shaking the bars. Morning came, hearing the cage laugh all morning, knowing that John and Jennie is mocking me. They want me to stay in here. I see Jennie coming, talking to the other me about the getting out of the room. “NOOOOOOOOOOO! DO NOT LET HER CONTINUE TO TRAP US!” I screamed. She told her she’s going to sleep in here tonight again, turning Jennie down. She’s so close to fully realizing her true self because I can now walk around as I please. “It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please.” I said. John’s trying to get inside of the room, I’m automatically drawn back into the wallpaper because of his presence. She looks determined to get me out of this cage. He came in after getting the key and stopped short by the door. “What is the matter?” John cried. “For God’s sake, what are you doing!” I stepped out of the wallpaper and looked at him while moving into her, making us one. “I’ve got out at last,” we said, “in spite of you and her. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” John fainted, all of his energy is was broken and has set me and her free and together. Where we belong.
Part 2: Essay: Comparison of “The Yellow Wallpaper” & Trapped Behind Deceit
If you listen to a different point of view then you can gain a different perspective on the situation. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the reader is gaining the perspective of the women (outside of the wallpaper) because the narrator is told in first person, limited, and subjective. This means that the reader is viewing the story as the women, taking what the women sees, thinks, and encounters throughout the story without knowing any other characters in the story thoughts and other things that they encounter other than with the women. In the retelling of “The Yellow Wallpaper”, I told the story in first person, limited, and it was also subjective but from the point of view of the woman in the wallpaper who is the true representation of the woman outside of the wallpaper. When comparing both the original story and the retelling of the story there are differences in perspective but are connected. In the original story, the first person narrator shine light on the weird and unusual sighting of the bars trapping the women in the wallpaper, John’s relationship with the women (outside the wallpaper), and the constant attention the wallpaper is given while the retelling from a first person narrator from the women in the wallpaper demonstrates why she is trapped in the wallpaper, her relationship to the women outside the wallpaper and with John, and the constant clues left for the women to reveal.
The perspectives were a little different when it came to the bars from the wallpaper trapping the women. In the original story, it states, “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be” (Larsen, pg 8). This shows that the women outside the wallpaper realizes that light can make the pattern of the wallpaper less complicated than she believes they are. Also, when she says, “and worst of all by moonlight”, shows her frustrated towards the pattern revealing it’s simplicity in moonlight which helps grab her attention the most of the horrid wallpaper. While in the retelling, during the same scene, it says, “These patterns are way too heavy and crowded. “YES!” I thought to myself, “The patterns are going to become less complex.” “If she would recognize that at night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and the best of all by moonlight, the complex pattern prision shows as just bars from the outside.” The same kind of wording is used from both the women outside and inside the wallpaper but the feeling of the woman inside of the wallpaper towards the moonlight is different than the other woman’s feeling. The trapped woman enjoys when the pattern is less complex because of the fact that it prevents her from being recognized from the outside women while also giving her a slightly better chance of escaping which she enjoyed. There are similarities as far as the bars being recognized through the changes of light from both the narrator of the original story and of the retelling but the feelings towards the light with the pattern are different.
The woman from both narrators views the attention ‘asked’ from the wallpaper differently but are working for each others favor. In the original story, it says, “It creeps all over the house. I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parior, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs….The only thing I can think of that it is like is the COLOR of the paper! A yellow smell” (Larsen, pg. 9). Now, in this story, the protagonist does not know what to think of the smell but only knows that she hates the color of the wallpaper which is yellow. It is not stated why there is a smell following her and the color is stuck with her but just that it has to relate to the wallpaper that frustrates her. In the retelling the connection is made by the trapped woman, saying “I would leave clues of deceit on her and John’s for me to let her know that I need to save myself. I do it mostly in the daytime, there’s another me that travels outside of the wallpaper with the other me outside of the wallpaper, like a spirit would. It will leave a smell that would remind her of deceit, the wallpaper, while making sure I don’t stand out too much.” This shows that the woman from the original story, the smell that kept following her was the spirit from the woman of the wallpaper trying to keep her attention on the wallpaper with the smell of wallpaper. The smell of the wallpaper, as the woman from the original story describes, is yellow. The woman in the retelling describes it as deceit which means that the yellow color of the wallpaper is actually deceit which is happening to the woman outside the wallpaper. Which is why she does not like the color because she does not believe the meaning and can not understand what is being deceived.
The relationship with John with both women are different at the beginning but are exactly the same at the end. In the retelling, the trapped women views John as a major part of the reason of why she is trapped in the wallpaper in the first place. “I did see when she caught John and Jennie investing their energy into making sure the patterns and bars were still strong to keep me locked in.” This proves that the trapped woman believes that John is keeping her trapped, he was making sure that the woman’s true representation of herself would not come out by keeping the wallpaper’s pattern intacted. But the woman outside of the wallpaper views the situation differently. “I have watched John when he did not know I was looking, and come into the room suddenly on the most innocent excuses, and I’ve caught him several times LOOKING AT THE PAPER! And Jennie too….But I know that she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself!” (Larsen, pg 8). This shows that the woman outside of the wallpaper seen John and Jennie looking and investigating the wallpaper but thought that they were only trying to figure out the pattern of the wallpaper which the trapped woman believes that they know the pattern very well but is trying to make it more complex. The trapped woman does not like John at all while the other woman only finds him somewhat as a suspect but not fully guilty because she has feelings for him. But as mentioned, the relationship towards John are the same at the end, “And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (Larsen, pg 12, and from retelling). After the escape of the women in the wallpaper, and both women emerged together then their thoughts and emotions became one. In that quote they are both have a sense of resentment towards John because not only does the women in the wallpaper from the retelling know that John was working against her but now so does the women outside. Which shows in the original because of the same quote coming from the woman said towards John.
There are different perspectives from different sides that can change your point of view on a situation. In the original story, the connection was made in the retelling by changing the narrator. This causes to use what is not known from the original story and make a connection. Like, the patterns of the wallpaper were not only bars seen by moonlight from both women but that it was used for the same purpose, to make the outside would acknowledge it even though the emotions towards the bars were different because of different mindset the women were in. Another connection was the smell and color, the original narrator thought it was just an annoying smell that came from the wallpaper that she couldn’t shake off and remind her of the ugly color. But, in the retelling it was actually a spirit of her trying to get her attention to the wallpaper to show her that she was being deceived. Finally, the relationship towards John from both women were different at first, the original narrator only thought of him as suspicious but wanted to be with him while the retelling narrator despised him. At the end, it shows that the two woman from the original and retelling became one after the ripping of the wallpaper and shared the same resentful feelings for John.
The day has finally come to post Project #1! Add a new post and do the following:
- Give your project a title in the field for title
- Add your Part 1 (retellingl, with a title at the top
- Then add Part 2 (comparative essay) including a title.
- Choose categories (not sticky categories): Project #1, plus the category for the original short story’s author’s name.
- Add tags. At a minimum add a tag for the narration style you used. Choose the narration style from the list of tags so we all use the same format.
- If you are not comfortable sharing your work openly, change Visibility from public to private.
- In class on Monday, I will ask for a reflective cover letter (instructions will be provided). Think about your process and accomplishments so we can be purposeful about our writing process and resulting product.
Oratorical (adjective) – of, relating to, or characteristic of an orator or oratory
“The feeling passed, escaped in the surprise of what Mrs. Hayes-Rore was saying. Her oratorical voice boomed above the city’s roar.”
It is now understood that Mrs. Hayes-Rore has a very distinguish and powerful voice. Her voice overcame the sounds from the streets of New York.
I hope everyone knows that CUNY canceled school for today. And I hope this snow day is a welcome break in your hectic midterm schedule.
We’ll need to revise our reading and posting schedule. I’m waiting for official word from the college about how to make up the class. Often the college will decide that students should complete an additional assignment rather than attending a make-up class, unless there is a reading day that could be used for making up the class. I’ll reach out when I know what I’ve been instructed to do.
In the meanwhile, I encourage you to continue reading Quicksand and revising Project #1.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reply here or to reach out to me via email.