This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Gallagher AP Literature Hills like White Elephants The hills across the valley of Ebro were round and white. It stood solitary and went for miles and miles, far past the human eye. On one side of the hills was an old station, old and rusty. Without trees, without shade, the station was placed in the middle of two rails. Close against the side of the station was the dark shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The liveliness within the bar crowded with people and the recently built polished wood made the station looked older than its actual age. The two building together resembled an unfit couple. The aged station robbed the bar of its quality, appearance, and liveliness. It was extremely hot under the burning sun. It was a forty minute wait for the next train from Barcelona to the free city of Madrid. Under the little shade that the station provided, sat an American gentleman and his young companion. The American man sat in an upright position, back firmly against his chair and feet planted on the ground. An earthquake could not have moved him. The American’s blue eyes and rigged jawbone presented an aura of strength and self-confidence when he spoke to his companion. She, on the other hand, whose feet barely reached the ground and kicking in the air, spoke with uncertainty as if she lacked the experience her older companion had. “What should we drink?” the girl asked while staring at the American. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table, revealing her rosy cheeks which seem to glow in the darkening shade. “It’s pretty hot,” the man commented with a craving for a glass of ice cold beer. “Let’s drink beer!” shouted the girl like a little girl screaming for attention. “Dos cervezas,” the man ordered into the curtain seconds without a single glance at the girl since they have sat down. A woman came out carrying two big glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table but resisted to leave. Her hands lingered playfully along the man’s side as he gave her a wink and smile. Ignoring the scene, the girl’s attention was caught by the
bleach white hills surrounded by ugly brown, dry and barren country side. “They look like white elephants,” the girl remarked, thinking it was the most special thing she had seen. “I’ve never seen one,” the man replied nonchalantly, almost as if he did not care. He was busy enjoying the coldness of his beer. The girl turned her head towards the American. At the same time, her awe towards the mountains had turned into anger. “No, you wouldn’t have.” The man drank the last of his beer, and placed his glass back at the table. Looking back at the girl with a mischievous smile, he leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms and replied, “I might have. Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.” His eyes looked down upon the girl as if stating he had won the argument. Unwilling to give in, she looked at the beaded curtains. “They’ve painted something on it,” she said. “What does it say?” “Anis del Toro,” the man said with a grin as if he had the answers to everything. “It’s a drink.” “Could we try it?” The man called, “Listen” through the curtain and ordered two Anid del Toro. Asked if she had wanted water with the drink, the girl was confused. She did not know whether she had wanted it with water or not. Was it better with water? Would she like it? She had to ask the American for guidance. “It tastes like liquorice,” the girl said and put the glass down. “That’s the way with everything.” “Yes,’ said the girl. “Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.’ She said the last part softly as if there was a sense of longing and regret in her voice. “Oh cut it out,” the American said with an annoyed tone, wanting to avoid this conversation. “Alright, I was trying to have a fine time like you wanted. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?” “That was bright.” “They’re lovely hills,’ she said. They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the colouring of their skin through the trees.”
“Wanting to talk about anything but the mountains, the American ordered two more drinks without taking the initiative to ask the girl whether she wanted one or not. “The beer’s nice and cool.” The man said. “It’s lovely,” the girl replied. “It’s really an awfully simple operation, the man said. “It’s really not an operation at all.” “They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural. I know a lot of people who have done it.” Throughout the time the man spoke, the girl barely moved. She moved her lips, wanting to speak but hesitated and couldn’t. Finally she put out her hand and took hold of two of the strings of beads as if she was holding on for support, not ready to let go. “And you think then we’ll be alright and happy.” “I know we will. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy. We can have everything.” “No, we can’t.” the girl defied. “We can have the whole world, the American said through his imaginative and convincing tone as if speaking to a child. “No, we can’t. It isn’t ours any more.”