“Hills Like White Elephants” By Ernest Hemingway. Read it. What is the point of conflict between the American and the girl? HINT: What is the relationship between the two? Think also about the pronoun “it” as employed throughout the piece.
How might the title be symbolic? Hint for one meaning: Ever go to a white elephant gift exchange?
A “whiteelephant” is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. The term derives from the story that the kings of Siam (now Thailand) were accustomed to make a present of one of these animals to courtiers who had rendered themselves obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance. In modern usage, it is an object, scheme, business venture, facility, etc., considered to be without use or value.
Now connect to the story…
If I asked you to write a literary analysis paper, what would a thesis look like?
What NOT to doavoid centering your analysis on the author’s effect on the reader; the author isn’t concerned with the reader’s reception as much as he/she is with the
message/theme/critique, etc., that he/she
works to portray.
Hemingway employs setting to make the reader understand how external landscapes mirror the characters’ internal landscapes regarding the girl’s pregnancy.
REVISED:Through the description of the arid land contrasted against the fertile grains lining the rails, Hemingway employs external landscapes to mirror the characters’ internal conflicted landscapes regarding the girl’s pregnancy.
Through nuanced characterization Hemingway prompts the reader to view the American as ignorantly captured in the present, making his disregard for either the past or the future responsible for his inability to be a husband or father.
REVISED: A selfish man unconcerned with the past and unthinking of the future, the American’s hedonistic existence in the present renders him incapable of being a husband and father.
First, underline the problematic language in each thesis statement. Then, re-write them to avoid centering the focus on the audience.
Suitcases as symbols
Positioning the American and the girl as vagabonds, the suitcases help the audience to understand the reflection of Hemingway’s connection to the “Lost Generation” of ex-patriots living in Europe after the horrors of World War I.
Author’s style: Declarative vs. Interrogative sentences
By bombarding the reader with a mixture of declarative and interrogative sentences employed alternately by the American and the girl, Hemingway evokes the audience’s interest in the power shifts the sentence types display.
Girl’s agency/lack thereof
Engaging the audience to sympathize with the girl, Hemingway effectively portrays the girl’s vulnerability in wanting reassurance for contentment with the American despite her knowing realization of a destroyed relationship regardless of the choice she makes.