What is the underlying meaning of the story “Hills like White Elephants?
jamie-wheeler Teacher College – Sophomore eNotes Editor The man and the woman are speaking about abortion. This is the primary theme, but there are others: tension, isolation, and disconnection. As the couple wait for the train, the woman gazes at the snow topped mountain. “They look like white elephants,” she said. “I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer. “No you wouldn’t have.” All of the themes of the story are hinted at here. The woman may be thinking of the mountains and her own body, which will soon be as swollen as the hills. The fact that they are cold and snow-capped may bespeak the isolation and “coldness” of her partner who does not want the pregnancy. Additionally, there is symbolism present in calling anything a “white elephant.” A white elephant is something that is not wanted: “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,” the man said, “It’s not really an operation at all.” The fact that the couple refuse to directly say to one another the words “pregnancy” or “a