Study Guide

Hills Like White Elephants Identity

By Ernest Hemingway


All of the sudden, the two characters featured in "Hills Like White Elephants" are faced with the potential of a whole new identity: that of being parents. This very short story explores what can happen when one parent wants to reject the new identity, while the other wants to accept it.  The way the two characters deal with all this in a public conversation also raises the question of public vs. private identity.

Questions About Identity

  1. Does Jig’s identity change over the course of the story? Does the man’s? If so, in what ways do they change?
  2. How do marriage and parenthood factor into identity? Why does the man want to reject the identities of father and husband?
  3. How might going through with the abortion affect Jig’s identity?
  4. The man is identified as American. Is this significant to the story? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Being able to speak and understand Spanish is a big part of the man’s identity.

Jig feels that having an abortion will destroy her sense of identity.