This story describes the conflicting desires and emotions in relation to unplanned and unforeseen circumstances. It illustrates the reflections of the characters on their current situation and decision making between them. They contemplate on the preservation of the status quo of their relationship and its eminent termination. The story reflects on the difficult decisions that had to be made by two individuals. Their priorities were similar before but due to their current situation differences have arisen in opinions and priorities. The story reflects on the behavior and mood of each towards the other and their perception of the present and the future given their current circumstances. The man and the girl engage in dialogue which brings out their feelings towards their situation and each other.
The girl is aware of her plight and is undecided on the right course of action. Their presence in the train station is characteristic of the difficult decision they have to make regarding their position and their future. Each has an opinion on what should be but is afraid of speaking their minds and result in absolute figurative speech. The girl is clearly not exposed to the world and relies on his to making decisions for her. When they arrive at the junction, she asks the man, “What should we drink?” . This illustrates her inability to make a choice for herself and her dependence on the man to make the decision for her. The man’s expression of how hot it is illustrating the girl’s situation as hot one. Her predicament is extremely difficult. Though the decision on what do is to be made by both of them, it will affect her indefinitely, and she realizes that the repercussions of her decision will affect her irrespective of what the man says.
“The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun, and the country was brown and dry.” (Hemingway, 211). The girl’s observation illustrates her condition; the author uses the symbolism of white hills to indicate her pregnancy, which has not, been directly expressed. White is symbolic to something divine and a blessing. Though, there was something noble a promise of a future the reality of her situation and predicament was grim and unpromising as indicated by the brown and dry country. Her expression of the hills appearing as white elephants is indicative of a rare thing happening. Though she symbolizes her situation as the elephant, her opinion is it is a blessing and should be appreciated as a unique event which should bring happiness between them. The man, however, states he has had not seen one upon which she replies, “No, you wouldn’t have.”. Her response to his comment indicates her perception of him. She understands he is a man who only thinks of himself and is unappreciative of the marvel that is bringing a new life into the world.
The girl’s dependence on the man to enlighten her on what to do and make decisions indicates her inexperience with the ways of the world. The fact that she got pregnant after meeting the American who is experienced in the ways of the world indicates her naivety. His promise of love and blissful life notwithstanding, she could not see that being a foreigner he was seeking adventure and not responsibility towards her. She contemplates on their future as the man insists the she agrees to do the abortion. Though, he simplifies the situation by calling it a simple procedure she knows after the operation their previous relationship can never be reinstated. She asks him what will happen after the abortion procedure of which he replies everything will be all right. She knows that things will never be the same. The fact that he is not willing to take responsibility for his actions tells her that he will move on to another girl. She understands his reluctance to take responsibility for her situation. His insistence that things will be normal between them after the operation gives her false hope. Her affection for him is real as she feels selfless towards him. Her consideration and willingness to proceed with the operation indicates her desire to restore his affections towards her.
The girl wish to make the man happy is profound as she agrees with him, “Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.” (Hemingway, 212). She is willing to sacrifice her happiness for his. Her wish to do his bidding is an attempt to hold on to happy moments, which she is well aware will never be again. She realizes that with their current circumstances they can never be free to indulge themselves as they used to do. She becomes realistic of the turn of events if she proceeds with the procedure. Although, the man tries to assure her that they can still have everything and do anything she is pessimistic about their future. She realizes that to her the procedure will change her life, and nothing will be the same. She realizes that the man’s intentions are selfish and aimed at easing his responsibility to her and her unborn child. This realization irritates her and is unable to stand the man’s false pretenses and empty promises. “Would you please please please please please please please stop talking.”. She is unable to stand his selfish reiterations, and she realizes that her decision should be her own and not his.
The pronouncement of the imminent train indicates her time to make a decision is almost over. She understands she has to make a decision that will affect her for the rest of her life. The train is symbolic of the decision she has to make and the direction she chooses to take her life in. The girl, though new to the ways of the world is quick to realize her mistake in having faith in a man whose interests are selfish gratification and has no care for her well being. She accepts the cruelty of her ignorance and contemplates on the consequences of her actions. She understands that the effects of her decision are irreversible and is careful to weigh her options. Though she is young, her demeanor illustrates maturity and responsibility for her future.
It is clear to her that the life that the American promised will never be. It is upon her to make the right decision for herself and unborn child. The man’s inability to comprehend the effects the operation will have on her or their future together makes it difficult for her to decide on what is best for her. Her feelings for him cloud her judgment as she declares that she has no care for herself but only for him. She is naïve for her to believe if she sacrificed herself and her desires he would change his mind. It is clear by the man’s words that his only care is the termination of the pregnancy. She realizes he has no care for anyone but himself. She begins to understand that the man will say what is necessary to have his way and prolong his exploits without the burden of responsibility towards her.