Hills Like White Elephants

Hemingway seems to be guilty of what Chapter 6 in Dash of Style warns against throughout the entire chapter: his use of quotation marks and dialogue heavily outweighs the bits of prose he intersperses throughout. There are really only three main prose sections which serve as much needed description of the setting of this piece as well as movement of the characters; however, the plot is largely psychological, and plays out through dialogue much more effectively than it possibly could in prose. Hemingway knows what he’s doing and intentionally allows his excessive use of quotations – all in short sentences, rapidly switching off back and forth between the two main characters – to dominate his writing. It works very well for the most part. However, by doing so, one doesn’t really understand (at least I didn’t) the plot or purpose of the story until very close to the end. Of course, this may be intentional, but I had to go back and reread parts of it various times to understand what was actually happening and who was talking at any given time. It also doesn’t help that none of the characters are named, except as man, woman, and girl, or that the woman  speaks Spanish to the man but Hemingway writes it in English with no explanation other than the conversation itself to make it evident to the reader. The quotation marks do, however, lend a fast pace to the story and accelerate the plot, important in a story so short with a lot going on behind the scenes.

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