This story consists of two main characters who are the girl and the American man. The waitress and people in the bar are the other characters who have superficial roles in the story. In my opinion the girl is the most important character and she has salient role in this story because the operation is going to happen for her and her decision is important in this case. “The man said, it’s not really an operation at all” (Hemingway: 2) .She is a protagonist who worries a lot about the future of her relationship. For instance she asks the man whether he will be happy and things will be like the past and he will love her again, if she did it (Hemingway: 1). Consequently, She has a round character because we get a lot of information about her and there are lots of gaps to fill (Abbott: 133). She is the person who cares a lot about keeping this relationship and being loved by the man. For example it can be traced in the following sentence in the story: “Then I’ll do it because I don’t care about me” (Hemingway: 2). She is also a type, She is dependent and emotional character. Whatever she wants to do she asks the man’s idea. “What should we drink?” or “could we try it?” (Hemingway: 1). She is also very emotional because we see that she changes her mind constantly not according to logical principles and she makes decision by her heart not her mind. For example she says “then I’ll do it because I don’t care about me” (Hemingway: 2).
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Another round character is the man who seems to be selfish in forcing the girl to do abortion because he likes his current life style. The tags on the bags show that he enjoys travelling and seeing the world and he thinks having a baby doesn’t let him follow his dreams. For instance he says ” that is the only thing that bothers us” (Hemingway: 2). He tries to persuade the girl by repeatedly saying that “it’s perfectly simple” (Hemingway: 2, 3). He seems so worried and he wants to get to the conversation about abortion so when the woman talks about the other things he just gives short responses to show that he is not interested but when he starts to convince the girl to do the abortion he talks a lot and he becomes more active in the conversation. Unlike Jig who wants to be intimate, the man doesn’t care about that and only worries about the unborn baby. He can also be a type because he is dominant and he wants to control the girl by telling her what to do. “It’s an awfully simple operation, Jig” (Hemingway: 2). He wants to force the girl to do the operation.
The woman and people in the bar are flat characters because we don’t get much information about them and they don’t play an important role in story. As Porter Abbott mentions that in flat characters there is not any complexity and depth feeling in their behaviors (Abbott: 133). They just give us a sense of setting in which the story happens. The most visible influence that the woman has in the story is when she comes and says about the time of next train’s arrival.
Hemingway tries to draw the reader’s attention towards the theme of the story which is abstract and can be extracted from the conflict of the main character’s action. The technique applied in the story is conflict regarding values, ideas, feelings and ways of seeing the world in a society.” (Abbott: 55). In the dialogue between the girl and the man, I got the impression that they had an ongoing conflict with each other, the man tries to persuade the girl that having a baby will make them unhappy and bother them but the girl thinks that if they lose the baby they will lose everything and they will never get it back (Hemingway: 2). By considering this issue, the theme focuses on different views towards the different worlds of the girl and the man. Escaping of responsibility and grasping the passing pleasure are the main issues that the readers have construed from the man’s behavior through the narration. The main characters of this story who have controversial debate about getting rid of the carrying baby. The man knows baby as a major obstacle to reaching long term happiness, also he insists on the choice of abortion to make him free from the responsibility. “It’s just to let the air in” (Hemingway: 2). the fallowing example shows that the man disagrees with the birth of the baby. On the other hand, the girl shows uncertainty about abortion. She wants to keep this baby because she thinks this issue is an element for reaching stability in her love and life. “If I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?” (Hemingway: 2). She thinks by losing the baby she may miss the fortune for having a family that can save her from rootlessness.
By figuring out the motif in the story, the technique offered by Porter Abbott was used; looking at the subjects that repeatedly said throughout the story (Abbott: 95). Regarding this definition, it can be mentioned that drinking alcohol is as a motif which is repeated through the story, by hoping to get out of trouble and changing the atmosphere of conversation. “Should we have another drink? All right” (Hemingway: 1). They order beer again and they drink, they feel better and change atmosphere and the man starts to take the dialogue forward. The curtain that we mentioned above as a symbol is another motif which is a subject for communication between the couple with waitress and the way of passing. “He went out through the bead curtain” or “The woman came out through the curtains…” (Hemingway: 3). “Two” is another motif, stopping of the train for two minutes, the station was between two lines of rail, carrying “two” bags (Hemingway: 1, 2, 3).In other words, it refers to existence of different desires and opinions between two characters of the story which, in a way, has caused the conflict through the story.
There are a number of symbols which reader can realize the theme of the story by means of these symbols. At the beginning of story the girl looks at the line of hills and said: “They look like white elephants.” (Hemingway: 1). Hills symbolize the problem that the couple are involved in; the white color represents the innocence of unborn baby, elephant is a symbol of the belly of a pregnant woman. When the girl looks at the hills, she hopes to find the solution; meanwhile the American man looks at the hills and doesn’t find any solution. “I’ve never seen one” (Hemingway: 1). The lines of rails is another symbol which can show two choices of the decision by the different point of view of the couple. On one hand she sees “fields of grains along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains.” (Hemingway: 2). This part symbolizes fruitfulness and fertility and making hope in Jig by keeping the baby because after seeing this scene she says “we could have all things.” (Hemingway: 2). On the other hand there is lack of passion in life and everything is brown and dry by losing the baby “there is no shade and no trees.” (Hemingway: 1). The girl should choose an option by selecting the track of train during the limited time.
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When talking about forms of narration, it is important to stress out that narrator of this story is an omniscient , the direct and indirect styles are applied to the representation with shifts from direct to indirect style and, finally into the free indirect style (Porter Abbott : 71,77). The impressive feature of the story, is narrated almost by dialogue, also narrator uses quotation marks and then shifts from direct to indirect style: “I’ll scream”, the girl said. The woman came out through the curtains (Hemingway: 3). We can observe third person narrator obviously narrates the story by means of free indirect style.
In conclusion, the story posses with characters, themes, motifs and the conflict between the couple who are main characters in dialogue. As mentioned above the girl (Jig) and the American man have different types of characters. Narrator by repeating some symbols and describing the landscape of place draws attention of reader to the theme of the story. Hemingway illustrates different ways of thinking between the girl and American man on abortion; it also shows miscommunication between them. Regardless of the theme in this story the couple in the rail station should decide about their future whether leading to a new life, fertility and making family, or ending up to death and losing the opportunity in future. I suppose at the end, the girl found herself satisfied and joyous based upon the decision that they made. It brought her comfort in mind and happiness in soul as she said: “I feel fine” (Hemingway: 3). In my idea Hemingway has left some space in this story for the reader to think about different aspects of modern life in a consumer society and the conflicts that modern people experience in their lives in their ways to reach happiness.
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