Term Paper: Male/Female Perspective

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[. . .] She reveals her escapist thinking when she only discusses things in symbols hoping that her husband would automatically comprehend her feelings. On the other hand, the American is relatively direct about his views and while he doesn't seem to care about his wife's feelings, he does give her a shallow chance to do want she thinks is right for her. She lacks the courage to seize this shallow opportunity because she feels it would lead to further friction in their already weak relationship. The way she behaves when abortion is mentioned reveals a lot about her true psyche and her complete lack of courage. She cannot assert herself and thus avoids talking about abortion directly. Instead she only makes her wishes known through vague dialogues, which her husband fails to comprehend.

Sheldon Grebstein (1973) sheds light on use of symbolism and what it reveals about the psyche of the two leading characters, "She looks at the ground when he mentions the operation for the first time, at the faraway river and trees in talking about their future, and at the dry and remote hills when he persists in trying to persuade her about the operation while simultaneously asserting his undying affection and fidelity. The man, in counterpoint, looks at the luggage that records their carefree and itinerant past (now at a standstill), at the tracks (escape), and at the people in the bar who are not arguing but "waiting reasonably for the train." There are other telling gestures also. When the girl removes her hat and places it on the table at the beginning of the story, this suggests the uncovering of emotion soon to come, at once "letting the hair down" and "putting the cards on the table." When the man picks up the two bags and moves them at the end, he indicates his desire both to shift the burden he feels and to run from the crises he has provoked. Yet as influential as all these gestures are in the dramatic action of the story, they hide inconspicuously in the text, affecting us only subliminally during the actual experience of reading." (392-93)

This is indeed a complex psychological story, which seeks to expose male and female psyches to help each understand the other. Though the story may appear to be revolving around the subject of abortion and women rights in this connection, still it would be unfair to limit its scope to just these issues. This is because the author has tried to present a general overview of how men and women differ in their viewpoints and how this difference leads to conflicts and misunderstanding. The issue of abortion was chosen because this is both controversial and subtle in nature. It has many different facets, which need to be studied in depth in order to understand their complexity. The author has intelligently made use of symbolism to make men understand that women use such tactics to reveal their thoughts and feelings. Failure to comprehend these signs can lead to disintegration of marriages and other important relationships. In one of his famous interviews for Paris Review, Hemingway had confessed that he believed in this iceberg theory. This meant that what readers saw on the surface was only the tip of the iceberg and there were actual many layers underneath. "If it is any use to know it, I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn't show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story." We can thus safely conclude that abortion was chosen as the 'tip of the iceberg' topic, which revealed the gaps, and differences that exist in male/female communication. In this short story, the author has carefully tried to capture the problems that lack of proper communication and differences in psyche can create in otherwise potentially positive relationships.


Jeffrey Meyers, Hemingway A Biography, Harper Row Publishers, 1985 pp196 197

Sheldon Grebstein, Hemingway's Craft Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973

Ernest Hemingway, Hills like White Elephants, 1927

Lamb, Robert Paul, Hemingway and the creation of twentieth-century dialogue. (American author Ernest Hemingway). Vol. 42, Twentieth Century Literature, 12-22-1996, pp. 453(28)

Welty, Eudora. "Looking at Short Stories" 1949 In The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews. New York:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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