“A&P” and “Hills Like White Elephants” Stories Comparison

Subject: Literature
Pages: 3
Words: 560
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College


The choice of a narrative mode shapes how readers perceive the actions of the main characters. This paper will include an analysis of two short stories, namely Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and A&P by John Updike. These literary works exemplify different story-telling techniques that enable the writers to achieve various goals. Overall, it is possible to say that these authors can choose an approach that best fits their purposes. This is the main point that should be discussed more closely.

A&P by John Updike

First, it should be mentioned that these writers use different story-telling techniques. In particular, Updike relies on first-person narration. The readers are prompted to look through the eyes of a teenage clerk, Sammy, who works at an A&P supermarket. The main advantage of this approach is that the writer can throw light on the inner world of this character. For instance, this story-teller seems to be a cynical person.

At first glance, one can say that he despises other people who he regards as slaves. Nevertheless, it is possible to argue that this first impression is very delusive. For instance, the narrative indicates that the protagonist desperately wants to produce a favorable impression on the girls who enter the A&P store. Moreover, it becomes evident that Sammy is a romantic or even naïve individual. One can say that the first-person narration helps the writer to illustrate the conflicting motives that drive the behavior of the protagonist. Additionally, this character represents a wide group of young people who chose to rebel against consumer culture.

Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

In his turn, Ernest Hemingway takes a different approach to story-telling. He relies on the third-person objective narration which means that the writer does not speak about the thoughts, emotions, or attitudes of the character. To a great extent, readers are prompted to reach their conclusions about the plot and characters. Hills Like White Elephants can be viewed as a good example of this technique.

In this case, the text of the short-story is mostly a dialogue between the two characters. The author does not try to evaluate the actions or arguments made by the protagonists. Additionally, the readers can only make conjectures about the subject that the characters discuss. For instance, one can suppose that the man tries to persuade the girl to undergo some form of surgery, probably abortion. However, one cannot say it for sure.

The main detail is that Hemingway refuses to make any comments about the relations between these characters. This use of third-person objective narration enables the writer to intrigue the readers and arrest their attention. The main advantage of this method is that it helps the writer to pose thought-provoking questions to the audience. For example, one can reflect on the future relations between the two characters. This is why the use of the third-person objective narration is quite justified.


Thus, these examples show how different narrative modes can be applied. In particular, John Updike’s use of the first-person narration is critical for describing the inner world of an adolescent who cannot adjust to the consumer culture. In turn, Ernest Hemingway’s approach is critical for engaging readers who are prompted to think about the motives that underlie the words or actions of the main characters. These are the main issues that can be identified.