As humans, it is instinct to make decisions whether they are good or bad. Although, when we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we sometimes rely on the opinions of others to make these difficult decisions for us. In this short story, "Hills like White Elephants", Hemingway relies on the use of symbolism throughout the story to describe a very complex issue that has encountered Jig and The American, the main characters in the story. Though the text can leave many unanswered questions, the dialogue is very detailed in trying to understand what the couple is trying to portray and the reader must rely on the use of symbolism to fully comprehend the storyline. The author relies on the symbolism of the title, the setting, and the indecisiveness between the couple to tell his story.
First published in 1927, the short-story elaborates on how the couple is traveling through the European country of Spain; Jig unexpectedly finds out she is pregnant and is plagued with the decision to have an abortion. In the title, Hemingway relates the pregnancy to white elephants; this phrase can have two meanings, for Jig it is a meaning of something that is precious and positive, but for The American he sees it as something that is unwanted. "They look like white elephants," she said (Hemingway 237). Jig explains how the white elephant can be a positive commodity in her life and can possibly be the change she needs to have a better life than the on she is living. The American sees the "White Elephant'', as a negative object because he feels that it will only have a negative effect on his life rather than a positive. He knows that if Jig were to go through with pregnancy he would no longer be able to travel and drink, as they would before the pregnancy. He expresses to Jig that having the abortion would be the best outcome for both of them, but as they become more indecisive they cannot seem to come to an agreement.