A good writer s objective is to say as much as possible as briefly as possible. This enables the thinking about the implications of the word s presented. Ernest Hemingway explained this idea in his iceberg theory of writing fiction in an interview for Paris Review: If it is any use to know it, I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There are seven-eighths of it under water for every part that shows. In order to expand on the meaning of his plots and characters, Hemingway used symbols and extended meanings to supply the unstated and submerged portion of his stories.
The story Hills Like White Elephants is an excellent example of Hemingway s iceberg principal with its extensive use of literary symbols. In Hemingway s iceberg theory of writing, Hemingway wants readers to read in-between lines and derive the true meaning of the story. To do this, you must interpret the symbolism Hemingway uses. The story Hills Like White Elephants is about a man and a woman who are at a train station in Madrid, Spain. The woman is pregnant and the man and the woman are discussing whether the woman should have an abortion operation.
They have only forty minutes (the time they have to wait for their train to arrive) to make their decision. At the end of the story, the woman is still not certain if she should have the abortion operation. In Hills Like White Elephants, there are many examples of the iceberg theory. One strong example was when the woman, referring to the hills, says, They look like white elephants. The woman later says, in response to the man s request of trying to have a fine time, All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn t that bright? The white elephants in these two statements symbolize the woman s mythical dreams.
The white elephants were just a figment of her imagination. The background and the horizon of the hills represent all the remote possibilities for the resolution of their current problem. Another example of Hemingway s iceberg theory in the story Hills Like White Elephants is the two sides of the valley; The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. The detailed symbolism of the two sides of the valley represent the two characters, the man and the woman.
The man is represented by the dark and shadowy side of the valley represents the man. This side represents the man because darkness represents evil and the man is cold hearted because he wants the woman to get an abortion. Meanwhile, the light side of the valley represents the woman because the woman is open to all suggestions and doesn t really want to kill her baby. Hemingway, in his iceberg theory, writes only a proportion of what he actually means. By doing this, he allows the reader to think deeply about what the reader has read and the message Hemingway is sending to the reader.