Category Archives: Ernest Hemingway

Hills Like White Elephants- First Person Point of View

First Person Narrative (Jig)

(Part 1)

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

(Part 2)

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.

Project 1 : Understanding Different Narrative Style Essay

  Part 1: Retelling (Final Draft)


“Hills Like White Elephants”

Ernest Hemingway

Page 2:

        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.


Absinthe (noun) – a green or sometimes colorless distilled liquor with high alcoholic content that is flavored with wormwood, anise, and other aromatic herbs (such as fennel); also a similar liquor that is made without wormwood


“Yes,” said the girl. “Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.” (“Hills Like White Elephants”, Hemingway)

I understand the absinthe is an alcoholic beverage which I believe, from what was stated in last class, that since the girl is pregnant, she can not drink absinthe which she probably craves to have. So she wants to wait to have the baby until it will be fine to drink absinthe without affecting the baby. Also, she might me too young to have such a drink. So in that quote, he is referring to her long have or had to wait and comparing it to the wait she had until she was able to have a drink of absinthe.