Hills Like White Elephants (Reaction Paper)

Fall in love… Get Married… Have a Baby.

                This is the way it should be, but most of the times, these three significant stages of a relationship get disarranged and thus create a big difference.

                Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” presents a typical scenario where in couples, who had jumbled the aforementioned stages of relationship, are incarcerated. The American and “Jig” surely had fallen in love in the first place but they had done something that is not yet right for them to do. And this caused them, especially the girl, a heavy dilemma. Hence, the stages would never be followed anymore in their proper places which lead to a different arrangement . . .  to fall in love, have a baby and to get married. And what seems to be disturbing in this kind of scenario is the uncertainty of getting married.

                “If a man and a woman love each other, would it be all right to do that?” The American and the girl had crossed their boundaries even if they are not yet married. They had cross a line which they can never go back. Maybe, they thought that it was fun and that they love each other so it’s natural for them to be intimate. Maybe, they had never thought of the consequences that may happen after doing so. And this is the pitfall of such act, being not ready for the consequences, having a “white elephant” and nearly committing a greater sin – killing an innocent infant (fetus).

                “Why give your everything to someone who causes you harm?” A man trying to coax her mate into premarital sex is only looking out for his own interest. In the first place, this is what had been neglected by Jig in the story. As what can be seen in her dialogue with the American, the latter doesn’t care for her that much. It can be concluded how self-centered the American is. He only considers himself and neglects the consequences of his actions. He even wants Jig to have the abortion which might harm her. Therefore, the American doesn’t truly love Jig. After all, would anyone who truly loves endanger his mate’s physical and emotional well-being?

                Deep down, many women would prefer someone who will protect them, not use them. And many men find that they are less attracted to a woman who has given in to their advances. In the story, after the couple had crossed their boundaries, I believe many things had changed especially how they treated each other. The line “… just like we were before,” emphasizes that somehow there was a changed in their relationship. This may be brought by the conception of the baby, but I think it was because of that “act” itself. I guess, since they had done that illicit “thing”, they began to look at each other differently. The American might have find that his feelings for Jig are not as intense as before; he might have even find her less attractive. Jig, on the other hand, might have felt exploited. Hence, the temporary effect of premarital sex may be to strengthen the relationship, but the long term effects are different.

                There are times when people need to decide whether to continue or to stop. Jig’s dilemma was not only about aborting the baby or not. She is also weighing whether to keep her relationship with the American or to stop it at once. Of course, she needs to consider many things. If she gave up her relationship with the American, will she be able to be independent again? After giving everything to him, would she be able to stand alone once more? These considerations would make the decision of separation difficult especially if she has been used to the presence of her mate but would it also not be painful if she still continues the relationship when in fact it is heading to nothing?

                In the story, Jig decided to take a separate path from the American. I believe that this experience of hers was painful. “Love is as powerful as death” (Song of Solomon 8:6).  Thus, separation may be one of the most traumatic experiences a person ever had to endure. In fact, maybe it would be like mini-death. But in the end, Jig needed to do this because their relationship is not already working. The fact that their views are very different and they seem to disagree on about just everything is an obvious call for consideration of goodbyes.  It would be better for Jig to decide earlier before the time will come that things become more intricate.  The Bible even says, “There is “a time to seek and a time to give up as lost” (Ecclesiastes 3:6).

                Lastly, the story implicitly talks about abortion. This issue seems to be rampant nowadays since youth become more engaged to illicit acts. Aside from emotional distress, these acts in turn give consequences that prove to be on the list of heaviest problems of the society, like abortions, unwanted pregnancies and even diseases. While people boast to young people about great breakthroughs in preventing pregnancy and treating venereal diseases they tend to disregard the most reliable and specific, the least expensive and toxic, preventive of both gestational and venereal distress and that is the ancient, honorable, and even healthy state of virginity.

 

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