Unlike traditional stories, wherein the author usually gives us some clues about what the main characters look like, sound like, or dress like, here we know nothing about "the man" or "the girl. Also notable is that "white elephant" is a term used to refer to something that requires much care and yielding little profit; an object no longer of any value to its owner but of value to others; and something of little or no value.
We have no clear ideas about the nature of the discussion abortionand yet the dialogue does convey everything that we conclude about the characters. Even today, most readers are still puzzled by the story. One reason for assuming this bare-bones guesswork lies in tone of "the girl.
The tension between the two is almost as sizzling as the heat of the Spanish sun. The girl has looked at the mountains and has said that they look "like white elephants. Abortion involves only a doctor allowing "a little air in.
The man is using his logic in order to be as persuasive as possible. Without a baby anchoring them down, they can continue to travel; they can "have everything. She no longer acts in her former childlike way.
It is a wonder that this story was published at all. The girl, however, has moved away from the rational world of the man and into her own world of intuition, in which she seemingly knows that the things that she desires will never be fulfilled.
Compare this narrative technique to the traditional nineteenth-century method of telling a story. The importance of the clean, well-lighted place where one can sit is integral to maintaining dignity and formality amidst loneliness, despair and desperation. She tosses out a conversational, fanciful figure of speech — noting that the hills beyond the train station "look like white elephants" — hoping that the figure of speech will please the man, but he resents her ploy.
Thus readers probably assume that these two people are not married; however, if we are interested enough to speculate about them, we must ask ourselves how marriage would affect their lives. However, he clearly is insisting that she do so. The tension remains, coiled and tight, as they prepare to leave for Madrid.
The early editors returned it because they thought that it was a "sketch" or an "anecdote," not a short story. Nothing has been solved. However, for the girl, this life of being ever in flux, living in hotels, traveling, and never settling down has become wearying. The girl is trying to be brave and nonchalant but is clearly frightened of committing herself to having the operation.
Then, such authors as Dickens or Trollope would often address their readers directly. With or without the abortion, things will never be the same. What she will ultimately do is beyond the scope of the story.
Even when the man maintains that he wants the girl to have an abortion only if she wants to have one, we question his sincerity and his honesty. Given their seemingly free style of living and their relish for freedom, a baby and a marriage would impose great changes in their lives.
Early objections to this story also cited the fact that there are no traditional characterizations.
Analysis This story was rejected by early editors and was ignored by anthologists until recently.The focus of this particular parable would appear to be on the efficacy of another ancient tradition, matchmaking. However, like Leo, we have. Summary. In the early s, an American man and a girl, probably nineteen or twenty years old, are waiting at a Spanish railway station for the express train that will take them to.Download