Reading Response Unit




Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills like Elephants” is a short story thatfocuses on a conversation between a young girl and an American man ata train station. This story is comparable to Margaret Atwood “HappyEndings,” which tells a different story of the journey of life. Thetwo stories are somehow similar and yet different in how they utilizemetaphors, imagery, dialogue, and transition between scenes. Asthis paper seeks to demonstrate, the use of these devices isinfluenced by the writers’ style, background, and plot of thestory.

In &quotHappy Endings,&quot the various scenes with differentscenarios are metaphors of the uniqueness of life. The variationsrepresent the different approaches to life. Again, the middlesections of particular scenes contain exciting developments that actas metaphors for the beginning of adult life. &quotHills likeElephants&quot also employs metaphors and imagery in a similar way.In discussing abortion, the girl comments that “Everything tastesof licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for,like absinthe” (Hemingway). Here, she is referring to herpregnancy, which is part of the storyline that also captures issuesfacing women.

Such an issue is the stubborn and pessimist nature of the man in“Hills like Elephants” as revealed in the dialogue. The man isopposed to whatever the girl says. For instance, when the girl saysthat “we can have everything” when referring to Ebro, he retorts“No, we can’t.” On the contrary, “Happy Endings” does notemploy dialogue at all and the characters’ attributes can only belearned from the author’s narration. In fact, attributes of thecharacters are not important to the plot the story that is flat andnonchalant.

Furthermore, Atwood ignores the need for transition between thescenes. Each scene ends in death or is referred to scene A that endsin death. This captures the author’s idea of tragedy or even herexperiences in life with same characters and but differentcircumstances. The numbering of scenes prevents the story to flowingseamlessly. In contrast, “Happy Endings” employs prose tosummarize and connect different scenes of dialogues for seamlesscontinuity.

All in all, the two short stories have explored various literarydevices in unique ways. Individual styles of writing are informed bythe plot and the author’s desires, views, motivations, personality,and background, etc. Thus comparing the use of literary devices inthe two stories reveals that the two authors have differentobjectives, writing styles, backgrounds, and influences in theirlives.