Though the plot and setting differ in "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway and "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" by Irwin Shaw, both short stories explore the division many men and women experience in their relationships. Hemingway's couple, Jig and the American, struggles with the decision to terminate an unexpected pregnancy. Shaw's Frances and Michael confront the issue of Michael's roving eye. Though the men and women in these couples seem to genuinely care for each other respectively, they nevertheless are unable to reconcile their differences. Although the characters of these stories express their affection for one another, due to conflicting personal desires they ultimately become estranged from each other. .
In "Hills Like White Elephants" Hemingway examines the sensitive issue of abortion and the conflicting emotions involved. The heroine Jig is uncertain about the decision to terminate her pregnancy. Whereas the American is confident that the procedure is "perfectly natural." Although these two characters care for one another, they have come to a turning point in their relationship. Hemingway reveals the actual desires of each character. The American is satisfied that an abortion is "an awfully simple operation." He believes that with the abortion, he and Jig can continue "just like before." He continues by stating, "That's the only thing that bothers us. It's the only thing that's made us unhappy." Although the American states that the decision is completely in the hands of Jig: "I wouldn't have you do it if you didn't want to." He follows this statement by saying: "But I know it's perfectly simple." Here, he clearly wants Jig to have an abortion. Unfortunately for the American, Jig is not so completely convinced. Hemingway uses imagery to illustrate Jig's feelings on having a child. Hemingway describes the view from the train station overlooking the Ebro River and the surrounding "fields of grain.