'Men Without Women' Is Published

Hills Like White Elephants" is a short story by Ernest Hemingway.

It was first published in the 1927 collection Men Without Women.

The story takes place at a train station in the Ebro River valley of Spain. The year is not given, but is almost certainly contemporary to the composition (1920s). This particular day is oppressively hot and dry, and the scenery in the valley is barren and ugly for the most part. The two main characters are a man (referred to only as "the American") and his female companion, whom he calls Jig.

While waiting for the train to Madrid, the American and Jig drink beer and a liquor called Anis del Toro, which Jig compares to licorice, showing how young she really is. Their conversation is mundane at first, but quickly drifts to the subject of an operation which the American is attempting to convince Jig to undergo. Though it is never made explicit in the text, it is made clear (through phrases of dialogue such as "It's just to let the air in" and "But I don't want anybody but you," among numerous context clues) that Jig is pregnant and that the procedure in question is an abortion.

After posing arguments to which the American is largely unresponsive, Jig eventually assents to the operation, giving the final justification: "I don't care about me." She attempts to drop the subject, but the American persists as if still unsure of Jig's intentions and mental state. As the train approaches, it is important to note that he carries their bags to the opposing platform and has a drink alone before rejoining Jig. She smiles at him, assures him that she is "fine", and the story ends.

Jig's reference to white elephants could be in reply to the baby. The American could see the baby as a white elephant and not want to raise it because of the cost, while Jig could see the child as an extraordinary addition to her mundane life of drinking and mindless traveling.