The setting of a story is a very important tool used by authors to set the mood, or to foreshadow a particular event. The way the sky looks, or the way the ocean waves hit the shore reflect greatly on an image that the author might be trying to convey. In the short story "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway, the setting is very descriptive of the dilemma shared by the main characters. The author is not subtle with his imagery; in fact the setting is a symbol of the two roads that could follow the hard decision, of life or death. These scenes are an illustration of the main characters" view on life.
The opening lines are carefully chosen to describe the setting of the story. It is a way to prepare the reader, for the conflict that engulfs the plot. The author gives the description of two opposite landscapes on the either side of the track. "The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white" (Hemingway, 164). This opening sentence gives the valley such a delicate and almost feminine description. The author goes on to describe the image as having, "Fields of grain and trees along the banks" (166). This gives the field fertility, which is a symbol of life and hapiness. This is directly related to the woman in the story who is going to choose, whether or not to go through with the abortion. The author uses the setting to describe how the girl feels about her choice, yet we see her trapped on the view of other side of the station. .
The image of natural beauty and fertility, is also a reflection on the personality of the girl. We know this because later in the story, she compares what she sees to white elephants. Her comparisons of the hills to these fantastic characters, gives us a glimpse of her subconscious. She allows the reader to see that instead of just describing the other side of the tracks, she visualized it as a beautiful romantic image. This reveals a lot about the girl's personality, giving her genuine and womanly characteristics.