“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway has a modernist structure, being built on the iceberg theory. The plot reveals very little about the characters, and readers have to interpret their dialogue to understand the conflict and imagine the background of the situation. Techniques like tension points and a cliffhanger ending contribute to making the plot more dynamic.
The main characters in the story are Jig and the American man. Very little is conveyed directly about their outer characterisation. Their dialogue and attitudes help construct their inner characterisation, depicting Jig as a woman who has in an inner conflict about whether to have an abortion, and the American as a selfish and rational man.
The setting of the story is 1920s Spain, and the events take place in a train station between Barcelona and Madrid. The description of the physical setting mirrors Jig’s thoughts and dilemmas about having an abortion. The social setting looks at aspects related to relationships and identity.
The story has a third-person narrator who is detached from the events and acts as an observer while occasionally using the point of view of the characters.
The language used in the story is simple and minimalist. Repetitions, similes and metaphors help characterise the girl and the man through speech. They also have the effect of conveying deeper meanings and symbols about themes and conflict.