Hills Like White Elephants Alcoholism Analysis

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In literature, authors will often use symbols of aspects within the story. These symbols often mean something deeper and represent a common thread throughout literature. The symbol of alcohol is a common idea. Ernest Hemingway was a common user of alcoholism; he used it in stories such as The Sun Also Rises, in his short story “Hills Like White Elephants”. Hemingway’s story of abortion uses many things throughout the story, such as alcohol to symbolize the relationship between the main characters, the lifestyle they lead, and the girl’s ultimate decision about her child. As Doris Lanier says in her article “The Bitterness Taste of Absinthe”, the couple’s relationship develops in which “like absinthe, bitterness has become a substitute for…show more content…
The story starts off normal, until a secret is revealed; a man tries to convince his pregnant lover to get an abortion. During the story the couple constantly drinks and it is implied that they have lived a lifestyle of doing this and traveling. During the story, the girl remarks that a drink “tastes like licorice”. She quickly then says that ‘everything tastes of licorice”, “especially the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe” (Hemingway 553). This comment is very interesting. The mention of absinthe has its purposes. Absinthe is known for its strong and addictive tendencies. Although it has a feeling of fleeting euphoria at first, drinkers have been known to fall in depressions after repeated usage. Absinthe symbolizes the couple’s passionate lifestyle; tempting at first, but destructive in the end. Lanier remarks that “the addictive quality of the drink most certainly is meant to emphasize the addictive nature of the couple’s lifestyle” (Lanier 8). Absinthe has a “reputation as an aphrodisiac” (Lanier 7). This can resemble the couple’s relationship and its focus on the physical aspects, and how the man would like it to stay that way. Their relationship is on thin ice, hoping it does not fall into ruin, and absinthe wholly represents

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