The tension between the two is almost as sizzling as the heat of the Spanish sun. The origin of the phrase is commonly traced to a practice in Siam now Thailand in which a king would bestow the gift of a white elephant on a member of his court who displeased him. Have them incorporate their findings into a storyboard like the example below. The man is identified as an American and the woman is identified as a girl, leaving her identity-less. The third person narrator in this story gives the reader the events pieced together, told afterward, and translated to English. The station itself represents the choice on whether or not to have the abortion. She is getting tired of the same old routine, mentioned before, so her choice is to do something different, to have the baby, to become a woman, and leave her childish ways for good.
There is a set of tracks on either side of the station, each representing one of the choices. But Hemingway tells us nothing about them — or about their past or about their future. They are on their way to Madrid and stop to get a couple of drinks at the bar. As the man continues to pursue the issue of the abortion however, the girl begs him to stop talking. An American man and a woman are having some beers outside the station bar as they wait for the train from Barcelona to Madrid.
The reality, however, is this: Before Hemingway began publishing his short stories and sketches, American writers affected British mannerisms. The girl is trying to be brave and nonchalant but is clearly frightened of committing herself to having the operation. White elephants are seen as unwanted, a burden, expensive. Hence, a white elephant is a burden. Breakdown in Communication Jig and the American man are not speaking plainly about what each one wants to do.
Then, such authors as Dickens or Trollope would often address their readers directly. However, she knows that her decision is complicated, and she finds herself in a dilemma. When he worked as a journalist, he learned to report facts crisply and succinctly. In fact, the two great stylists of twentieth-century American literature are William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway, and the styles of the two writers are so vastly different that there can be no comparison. The American, as scholars have noted, clearly wants Jig to say she wants the operation in order to absolve himself of blame, and Jig clearly refuses to give her partner that satisfaction.
Hills Jig looks out at the hills and compares them to white elephants, but the American man is no longer dazzled by anything she says. On one side of the station, the tracks run through a lush, green landscape full of grainfields and trees. The woman notes how beautiful the hills in the distance are, how they are like the color of white elephants. The girl dispassionately agrees with him. The setting of the scene is a bar located near the train station where the man and the girl discuss this life altering operation, as they await the arrival of the train to Madrid.
Jig, clearly reluctant to have the operation, suspects her pregnancy has irrevocably changed the relationship but still wonders whether having the abortion will make things between the couple as they were before. Then he goes into the bar and has another Anis del Toro. As the two sit drinking alcohol, it becomes clear that the girl is pregnant and the man is encouraging her to get an abortion, though neither directly names the issue they are discussing. As it is now they travel all around the world, drinking and staying in hotels, and seeing all the beautiful places in the world. Focusing on an old man and two waiters, Hemingway says as little as possible.
Throughout the story, Hemmingway uses an abundant amount of dialogue so the reader can interpret that Jig and the man are contemplating some decision. She asks him to stop talking again. The bead curtain represents the fact that once they choose a side, to have the baby or not, they cannot change their minds and then switch sides. Hemingway took great pains with his work; he revised tirelessly. The story takes its tension from their terse, barbed dialogue. To the man the pregnancy is something they can leave behind them, like a piece of extra baggage in their many travels.
She asks the man what they mean. On the other hand, the woman is tired of the wilder life and wants the baby and to settle down. The man then suggests being there for her, the whole time and that this operation was natural. They both bring up people they know who have had the operation and gone back to being happy. She knows they will never be as happy as they were before, and they will probably continue to drift apart. Have students analyze the dilemma the Jig is facing as they read and speculate on the potential outcomes of the her choice. She asks him what will they do afterwards how things will be and he says they will be fine everything will be just like it was before the operation.