Tone of The Hills Are Like White Elephants by Hemingway

Subject: Literature
Pages: 1
Words: 334
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

The distant, barely visible white hills are the first place that the reader can notice for himself. They are mentioned by the author in the title and indirectly reveal the theme of events. The heroine describes these things as being like “white elephants” (Hemingway, 1998). White elephants are unwanted things that shame their owners and should be hidden from the public, and the fact that the girl so easily sees white elephants in the most random places means that she thinks about an impending abortion. The tone of the author of the story is calm and does not express sympathy. It is clear throughout the story that the man would like the woman to have the operation, which he describes as not an operation at all. He promises to stay with her all the time and that they will be happy afterward because “it’s the only thing that bothers us” (Hemingway, 1998). At the same time, the tone of the author is as unexpressive as that of the protagonist.

In conclusion, Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The Hills Are Like White Elephants” is about a man and a woman who is trying to cope with an unwanted child. Hemingway does not give the reader a direct answer about a woman’s final decision regarding a child. However, the tone and clues it leaves behind are helpful in making a choice to get pregnant. These clues have to do with the tone of the story, much like the words a man says make us understand Jig’s tone of disapproval. Overall, this story is like an iceberg, with most of the material lurking below the surface. The story is actually about a couple who struggle to decide whether to keep their unborn child or terminate their pregnancy. Symbolism and metaphor predominate in this short story, and these two themes are well shown here. How does the author’s tone affect the perception of the end of the story, and what makes the reader get to understand the girl’s choice?


Hemingway, E. (1998). The complete short stories of Ernest Hemingway. Simon & Schuster.