Choice of words and style of writing

“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is written in a minimalistic style. Except for a few very brief descriptive passages, the text is mostly in the form of dialogue, with very short sentences. It is as if the reader is overhearing a conversation between two people.

The style of writing resembles the journalistic style. Most of the text is simply focused on recounting a conversation directly. Even the descriptive passages are short on information. They merely show what the reader might see when overhearing a conversation. Here is one example:

The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. (p. 475, ll. 15-17)

Most of the text is written using nouns, but you can also find a few adjectives in connection with the setting, that help the author create some contrasts. The hills are “long and white” (p. 475, l. 1) while the country is “brown and dry” (p. 475, l. 18) and the valleys are filled with “fields of grains and trees” (p. 477, l. 23). The landscape can be interpreted as mirroring the contrasts between the man and the young woman and between the options of abortion and of keeping the child.

Characters also tend to use positive words in their speech, which is ironical, considering that their conflict refers...

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