Through the analysis of linguistic patterns, gender-linked misconceptions and scene purpose, one can understand the deep meaning of gender conflicts in the story of “Hills like White Elephants.” We begin to understand the male’s power over the women and how that power begins to alter due to the use of language. By the end of the analysis we will come to terms with the fact that the symbol of the White Elephant was depicted in three ways: as the child, the abortion and ultimately the male in the story.
Within the first line we learn that the hills “across the valley of the Ebro were long and white” (Hemingway 475). The second thing that the girl says, who we come to know as Jig, is that the hills “look like white elephants” (Hemingway 475). Once that this is suggested we can come to the conclusion that there is a problem within the story. A white elephant is seen as a gift that becomes a burden or a gift that one receives but does not want. Throughout the story, we deduce that there are multiple white elephants depending on the view that you take. From the male’s point of view, the white elephant will be the unborn child, the abortion or even Jig.
From Jig’s point of view we can say that the white elephant begins as the abortion, however, as the power changes in the story the white elephant becomes the male which overpowers all other white elephants. The male becomes the burden. The dialog within the story is very influential and powerful in the way that it changes our viewpoint on the characters. Smiley goes on to say that “the notion that men and women have difficulty communicating is not new” (2). Gender-linked patterns have a major impact in the story as we see that the male and the female have difficulty communicating as they “speak different languages” (Smiley 2). When the story begins it seems to take on the norm in where we believe that the male should dominate the female, the male should have the pow.