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Hills Like White Elephants

Hills Like White Elephants

by Ernest Hemingway

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"Let's drink beer." (4)

This quote might look like it belongs in the theme of "Drugs and Alcohol." We have it here because it shows that Jig is actually the one doing much of the decision making in the story. In many ways, she steers the action with her speech.

Quote #2

"They look like white elephants," she said.

"I've never seen one," the man drank his beer.

"No, you wouldn't have." (9-11)

Jig’s comment seems a little mean here. As we soon learn, she’s deeply disappointed in the man because he wants her to have an abortion and doesn’t want to marry her. Yet, her jab has nothing to do with that. Instead, she’s taking the underhand approach – jabbing him with an insinuation that he hasn’t traveled as much as she has.

Quote #3

"It's really not anything. It's just to let the air in." (44)

The man might be more direct than Jig, but what a way to talk about an abortion. It seems insulting to both of them. We have to remember, though, that it was a federal offense in America to provide anyone with information about birth control in the late 1920s, when this story was published. So, most people knew virtually nothing about how these procedures worked, and even less about how to talk about them.

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