Persuasion and Resistance in Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants

Subject: Literature
Pages: 2
Words: 634
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

Persuasion is an essential communication tool used to alter other people’s beliefs, intentions, and attitudes by using words, actions, or suggestions. The persuader explains the stated proposal’s advantages, while the person with a different viewpoint debunks the proposal by stating the disadvantage of the said action. The sporadic conversation in Hemingway’s story “Hills like White Elephants” depicts the co-existence of persuasion and resistance as the American convinces the woman to carry out an abortion. The woman, on the other, is ambivalent about the idea as she feels it would harm her health and explains why she should keep the baby (Kale, & Raskauskas, 2021). Persuasion and resistance in the story and film coexist through skepticism, counter-arguments, and avoidance as the man tries to convince the woman. The American uses the concept of a happy marriage to convince the woman to abort, claiming that the unborn baby is their only challenge. The persuader wins as the woman agrees to abort to save her marriage.

The film and the written version of the story are similar in that both express the conflict between the two on abortion. The conversation in both versions shows the man expresses his masculine structure and can convince the woman. On the other hand, the film and the written performance differ in describing the conflict and how it affects the relationship between the couple. While the written version does not reveal the level of damage the conflict has caused the two lovers, the Video vividly shows the differences between the couple as each walks alone towards the bar (Brabson, 2013). The Video is more convincing that the couple is in conflict and only the operation can restore peace between the two.

The character traits of the American and the woman are similar because they both value the relationship and are willing to do anything to save it. The American therefore uses the relationship as the primary reason the woman should agree to abort. Since the American does not want the woman to give birth to the baby, he makes abortion the only way to save their union. The American fulfills his role as a persuader when he says to the woman, “then we will be fine afterward. Just like we were before” (Hemingway, 1956, p. 2). Furthermore, the woman in fashion responds by saying, “then I’ll do it because I do not care about me” (Hemingway, 1956, p. 3). By making the statement and the corresponding response, the two characters are connected by their love for the relationship and are ready to make any effort to save it. The woman claims she does not care about herself because she wants the relationship to work (Brabson, 2013). The couple is encouraged by a happy duo in the bar who seem happy and enjoy the breeze together.

The character traits of the American and the woman differ because while the man expresses his excessive masculine character, the woman appears confused, less assertive, and helpless. She kept changing her mind about what she loved about the plain, the surroundings, and her selfless love for the man. The American fulfills the manipulative role when he says to the woman, “that is the only thing that bothers us and once it is done because it is the only thing that made us unhappy” (Hemingway, 1956, p. 2). On the contrary, the woman, in a confused manner, asks, “And you think then we will be all right and happy?” (Hemingway, 1956, p. 2). By responding, the woman becomes the manipulated figure in the story and makes decisions by ignoring all her fears about the dangers of abortion. Persuasion can overcome all kinds of resistance if the persuader choses the right time, incentive, place, and capitalizes on the audience’s personality to convince them embrace an idea they once rejected.


Brabson, S. (2013). Hills Like White Elephants Part 1. [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Brason, S. (2013). Hills Like White Elephants Part 2. [Video]. YouTube.

Hemingway, E. (1956). Hills like white elephants. The Story and Its Writer, 6.

Kale, V., & Raskauskas, J. (2021). Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants.” The Explicator, 79(1-2), 69-73. Web.