Theme and narrative elements in “Hills like white Elephants” Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

The narrative elements in a story are a large consideration of plot, conflict, climax, resolution, and dialogue. Theme is not just a plot or a summary of a story. It tells one what the story talks about. Theme is a representation of what lies behind the story. In order for one to identify the theme of the story, there is a need to look beyond the plot. When writing a story, the characters, actions, and other elements make it come alive, and it can be broadly recognized.


In the short story, “Hills like white Elephants” the plot is as follows; the main characters are: the girl and an American man. They sit outside a hotel under a warm shade. Jig and the American man have been sleeping in the hotel for several nights. They are asking for beer a bottle after the other while watching football.

They are holding a conversation. It is about abortion. The man is encouraging the girl to abort. He even tells the girl that they witness people who aborted and are living happy lives. He is trying to show the girl how easy it is for abortion to take place. He is telling Jig that being pregnant makes them unhappy. According him, he takes care of the girl by doing this. His insincerity has significantly contributed to fulfilling the theme of the story. He is telling the girl that, this is to make him and her live a happy life (Clugston, 2010).

This conversation shows that the girl is in a dilemma. Therefore, when the man sees that his girl is not into this idea of abortion, he tells her that she can do it if it is out of her will and that he is not forcing her to do it. Her answers to the questions that the American asks her show her frustration with him.

Her strength is the one which can help her resolve the dilemma. The girl ends up not supporting the idea of abortion which frustrates the American man (Gates, 1996). The way these two people have been asking for beer throughout the story is to try and take away stress. This conversation, however, has not ended with a conclusion.


Characters in stories have different behaviour, which forces the fullness of the theme. Characters of the involved people in the story affect the narrative theme. The conversation between the two characters has a great effect to narrative theme in the short story “Hills White like Elephant”. Jig’s sarcasm, which expresses her feelings when the American praises abortion, establishes the theme of the story. Also, frustration of the girl when she is in a dilemma on what to do about abortion has helped to build the theme of the story.


In this story, the distant hills symbolize a place of escape. They always remind her about consequences of any decision she can make. This helps in building the theme of the story. The hills were traditionally a symbol of beauty while they are now not symbolising beauty according to the girl. This affects the theme of the story. Also, setting of the story helps to identify the theme. In this story, the setting is in a hotel which clearly builds on the theme of the story. They are drinking beer to relieve their stress on abortion.


Clugston, R.W. (2010). Journey into literature. Ashford: Bridgepoint Education.

Gates, H. L., & McKay, N. Y. (1996).The Norton anthology of African American literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Read more
Leave a comment
Order Creative Sample Now
Choose type of discipline
Choose academic level
  • High school
  • College
  • University
  • Masters
  • PhD

Page count
1 pages
$ 10