Alcoholic Vail ?In many Hemingway novels and short stories, excessive drinking generally plays a major role in the relationships between the characters. This is very apparent in “Hills Like White Elephants” and The Sun Also Rises. The alcohol provides a gateway for the for the characters to forget about their personal problems, as well as, act out against their problems and short comings. ?In “Hills Like White Elephants,” both the girl and the American man drink alcoholic beverages all throughout their conversation to avoid each others’ company, as well as the problems that are occurring within their relationship.
They begin drinking the largest beers available the moment they arrive at the train station. It’s almost as if they begin drinking to consume their free time with anything else that is available other than discussion. The girl, Jig, strikes up small talk mentioning how the hills resemble the shapes of white elephants. In the same breath she asks to order more drinks “Anis del Toro…Could we try it? ” (Hills 211). She does this to presumably put off the inevitable oncoming conversation about the unborn child she was carrying.
The reader can infer from the back and forth conversation that they are speaking of pregnancy. The use of “white elephants” in the description of the hills is used to describe a valuable but burdensome possession which its owner can not get rid of but whose cost is not proportionate to its worth or usefulness, in this case referring to a child abortion. This idiom can set the background for the awkward conversation. The couple drinks primarily to avoid thinking or conversing about the pregnancy; however this leads the reader to believe that much deeper problems must exist in their relationship.
The baby is only a small tip of the iceberg. Jig, implies this when she states that she and the man never do anything together as a couple except try various new drinks, almost as if the both of them are constantly trying to invent new ways to avoid each other. At the end of their frank conversation both Jig and the American man are drinking alone “ He walked through the barroom where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar. ” (Hills 214).
The girl sits at the table alone and the man sits at the bar continuing to drink, suggesting that the two will eventually break their relationship, leading them to go their separate ways. ?In The Sun Also Rises, nearly all of the characters are alcoholics. No-matter their location, they are drinking, and in most case, in excess. Their drinking often provides them with a route to escape their reality. Their drunkenness allows all of the characters in the novel to endure lives that are extremely lacking in purpose and personal affection.
As with Jig and the American in “Hills Like White Elephants”, Jake and Brett continually drink and talk about what their lives could be together, although that dream never materializes. In the novel, Hemingway attempts to portray the downsides to excessive binge drinking. During the novel, the frequent use of alcohol tends to bring out the worst behavior in some of the characters, in particular Mike Campbell (SAR 97). Mike is constantly drunk and has a terrible temper with violent outbreaks, which most commonly occur during his frequent bouts of drunkenness “I’m rather drunk, I think Ill stay rather drunk.
This is all awfully amusing, but it’s not too pleasant for me. It’s not too pleasant for me. ” (SAR 133). This shows that Mike is perfectly away of his abuse of alcohol and its effects on him, but he consciously chooses to continue the habit. Hemingway also subtly makes a connection that the frequent drunkenness worsens the constant emotional turmoil that Jack and his friends encounter. Following the Brett-Romero-Cohn love drama the only thing Jake has to fall back on is alcohol. This time however, even the booze wouldn’t help dull his feelings.
Jake clearly needed something to cure his problems rather than search for something to cover them up, “Id believe anything. Including nightmares’,’Whats the matter? Feel low? ’,’Low as hell. ” (SAR 147). The constant intoxication allows the characters to put off their problems and allow them to fester instead of confronting them, much like Jig and the American man in “Hills Like White Elephants”. ?In both the short story and the novel, it is very apparent that the abuse of alcohol plays a detrimental role in the development of the characters.
They use and abuse this substance to run away from the problems that they desperately do not want to face. They use alcohol as a distraction as well as a source of entertainment to mask their problems. The use of alcohol in both stories generally leads to negative consequences for all parties involved.
Works Cited Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants. ” The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Scribner’s, 1987. N. pag. Print. Bloom, Harold. Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. New York: Chelsea House, 1996. Web.
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