The 1920s Woman in “Hills Like White Elephants”

Cara Monaco

Social Rough Draft

English 102

March 11, 2009

The 1920s Woman in “Hills Like White Elephants”

It was the era of the Flapper.   Equality and independence were the hot topics for women in the 1920s. In 1920, women received the right to vote and begain to enter the workforce more than ever. Women started wearing pants, cutting their hair, showing off their figures and challenging the traditional male dominated world. “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemmingway, is a story about a young woman, Jig, faced with the choice of an abortion or upsetting her lover in the 1920s. Jig has a decision to make and while discussing the situation with her American beau, a reader can see the manipulation and control that was commonplace between a 1920s couple, dispite the strides women had made. The American uses his language to assert his dominance over the passive Jig, throughout the story. By creating a dominant male character and a submissive, conflicted female character Hemmingway is simply reflecting on the times and the opinion of women in that time period.

Hemmingway’s story is about a young, unmarried couple in a train station. While awaiting their train, they are drinking and talking about their options. The couple is faced with an unplanned pregnancy, a very taboo subject in the 1920s. the man, refered to in the story as The American, spends most of the story trying to talk his lover, Jig, into   an abortion. The American feels that everything will be easier and life will be better if they terminate the pregnancy. David Wyche stated in his essay, “Letting the Air Into A Relationship: Metaphorical Abrotion in ‘Hills Like White Elephants’,” the American is pushing the abortion because “The aborted fetus will continue to come between them as they try to ‘look at things and try new drinks’ ” and will interfere with his life in his “unencumbered sexual playhouse” (Wyche 58 & 60). While Jig meets his view with slight opposition, in the end...