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Joyce’s Eveline And Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants

Eveline and Jig Issues re “Eveline” by Joyce and “Hills Like White Elephants” (Hemingway)

Females in our literature have reflected many variations of the damsel in distress, and with male domination towering over their lifestyles and image. “Eveline” by James Joyce displays a woman, grieving due to an imperious male figure, showing herself seeking freedom through marriage with a foreign man. The woman, named along with the title of the story, ends up making the choice of staying with the abusive male. While “Hills like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway, does not ensure a clear denouement, the short story describes a couple's decision on their unexpected child. Jig seeks a change from their life, but the male intends to stay with his original lifestyle and exhibits clear control of her situation. Both women from each story have to decide on love or family, but they each lose something different through their own conviction. The males that share a relationship with the women, on the other hand, represent complementary symbols of short lived fantasies that are the desires of these women. Eveline from James Joyce's story “Eveline” and Jig from Ernest Hemingway's “Hills Like White Elephants” have to make a similar choice of changing their lifestyle and relationships, but both end up on the opposite paths in their outlook on life and love.

Jig and Eveline led different lifestyles from the start, and it resulted in their present dilemmas in both stories. Julieann Ulin summarizes Eveline's routine as caring for her father and “house in addition to working as a nanny for two children,” and is the only child to have not left their home yet (“Eveline”). Isolated in her home under her abusive father, she personifies a wife working in a home. Her father's demands of her staying remind her of her mother's circumstances, and Eveline fears of wasting her life with her father. Ironically, Jig's lifestyle is the opposite of Eveline, and she points it out mid-story. Doris Lanier's Studies in Short Fiction article describes Jig and the American's life as “revolving around traveling, sex, drinking, looking at things, and having pointless conversation about these things” (286). The American and Jig lead a living of drinking and partying which demonstrates no productivity at all, and they both wield a sort of freedom unlike Eveline. On the other hand, after getting pregnant, Jig begins to oppose their ways and wants her relationship to evolve. These stories have two leading women who hold separate lives yearning for a similar idea of change, but the ladies problems run different ways.

Particularly, the two female protagonists face dynamic choices in order to achieve the object of their goal. Eveline confronts the decision of leaving her family behind, or living a new in another country with a unfamiliar man. Contemplating her choice, Ulin points out that Eveline endures small guilt for thinking of leaving through her “promise she made to her mother to keep the home together” (“Eveline”). With her mother's death, Eveline felt obligated to keep that promise, but it also reminded her of how terribly her mother died under the marriage of her abusive father. Scared, Eveline immediately decides to leave, and sets off to a new life where she believes she would not find her father. Jig's issue shows much larger and different scale because it questions people's opinion on the matter of life versus death. Still controversial to this day Renner's Hemingway Review states that, Jig and the American “are trying to agree on whether or not she should have an abortion,” and both oppose each others opinion (28). The American supports the abortion, because that means he can continue his bachelor-like lifestyle. However, Jig does not want to leave the baby for it will end her plans to actually have a future with the American. Both female's distinctive choices reflect their similar wants for a new and better home.

Subsequently, Jig and Eveline yearn for adjustments in their ways by desiring marriage and family, and those desires are brought about by different reasons. Eveline longs to leave her father and start a new life, and finds the solution in a man named Frank. However, Thomas Dilworth's article in Studies in Short Fiction affirms that “Eveline does not love Frank...she resolves to elope mainly to avoid reliving her mother's futile life” that ended in pain and suffering (458). Her strong resolve to escape comes from her mother's own experience, and Eveline watched her mother wither away in pain due to her father's abuse. Assuming that her father would do the same to her, she resolves to get married herself, and forever leave the her oppressive leader. While Eveline aspires to escape, Jig dreams of creating a new life with the American out of love. However, the American does not want the baby she carries, and Lanier's article defines this choice as “reject[ion of] the opportunity for a new, vital, and meaningful relationship” (280). Jig realizes their relationship was dry and detached due to their acts for gratification through drinks and sex. Through her pregnancy, she feels the chance to have something fulfilling with the American. Both woman's motives involve men who represent the opposing force or an elusive symbol.

Two men of the stories dominate the females in rather awful methods, and both oppose the choices the woman endorse. Ulin brings up that Eveline's father “would hunt [the children] down with his blackhorn stick,” and how this gives him an “image of brutality” (“Eveline”). Eveline knows this and brushes it off, and insists that what he did was docile compared to after her mother's death. Her father would have had to done much worse to her siblings for her to have thought this. Along with him opposing her leaving with a sailor by threatening her. Eveline's father defines the dominating and violent force through the pain she has known throughout her life from the man. The American and Eveline's father share the defiance, but the American exposes less cruelty to Jig. Only controlling most of the conditions around her, and attempting to dissuade her from her dream of family. According to Stanley Renner, “clearly the American is the leader in their relationship: he knows...the language of the country in which they are traveling...and he is in charge of their luggage and thus,...of the destination of their travels” (28). Presumably, Jig does not have much choice in what they do, considering that she mostly follows the American. Given the language and choice lead, Jig would have to depend on the American to get anywhere and find a home. The American and Eveline's father exhibit control through either violence or through their environment, and the two males that are involved with the women represent something similar.

To start with, Eveline desperate for a way out of her father's abusive home, finds comfort in a stranger. Julieanne Ulin's article summarizes that Eveline “met Frank as he was standing outside his lodging house, and she finds himself enraptured by his tales of faraway places and adventures on ships” (“Eveline”). She does not quite know him, and she is offered a place to live in Buenos Aires as this man's wife. Considering her chance of escape, the option tempts Eveline into thinking of running from her homeland. She does not think about Frank as a strange for offering her this, but believes she must go to him for comfort after thinking of her mother's horrid death. Ulin notes that in the end, Eveline “refuses him any sign of recognition or farewell” (“Eveline”). Possibly due to the fact that Eveline would soon realize that she only used Frank as a means to escape her own problems at home. She also had no real connection to Frank to marry him in the first place, so she was unable to gauge whether or not Frank would treat her well or not. Using Frank as a means to a temporary home, Eveline decides to stay with her father and throw away the idea of leaving her broken home. Frank represented Eveline's release from her father, and the American embodies a free-lance bachelor.

Although the American may be traveling with Jig, his lifestyle suggests that he does not see their relationship as closely as she does, and he serves as a short lover. The American blatantly opposes the pregnancy, Lanier describing him to believing it as “the 'thing' that has made them unhappy” (286). Jig, of course, imagines an opportunity for them, but the American fears the change that it would bring. No more wandering around towns, drinking things, and spending nights in hotels for the cheap satisfaction a man enjoys. Furthermore, the American opposing the pregnancy also raises the question on his thoughts of their relationship. Lanier's article suspects that since “he doesn't want the child...their relationship is no more than an illicit affair” (287). Giving no support to Jig's ideas of a permanent relationship, the American expresses no real care for the girl. He simply wants the baby out of the picture, so he can spend a couple more nights with her and then possibly dump her. No responsibility or liability would come out of him rejecting her affections. Jig and the American's short lived denouement can match with Eveline's on terms of their final conclusions to their futures.

Moreover, Eveline's depressing conclusion leads up to her recognizing her future would not depend on escape. Ulin adds that “Eveline has traditionally been read as a character who fails to take advantage of her chance to escape” (“Eveline”). She chose staying in solitary confinement rather than roaming strange new lands with foreign companions. Eveline looked hopeless in the end, and automatically the reader would assume that her abusive father had won her freedom. However, Eveline's own choice can read as understanding towards her own actions, and what they could result in. Dilworth theorizes that “she fail[ed] to join Frank for the same reason she earlier decides to elope,” and this sheds some light on her refusal to leave (458). Getting married like her mother, could mean a short life for Eveline herself, and she nearly ran towards the circumstance she tried to run from. The family life in Ireland she has now would perhaps, coincide with the future she might have in the sailor's home of Buenos Aires. Fearing for her life, she decides to play safe and stay with her father, because going to a strange land could worsen her own situation. Giving up the object of her desires, Eveline's decision comes with historical attachments that bring out the brighter side of staying in Ireland.

Moreover, Eveline's decision to not go with Frank was supported by other authors who have looked into the background of the time period that James Joyce lived in. Frank offered Eveline a place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and while that may seem unimportant, it plays a part in the theme of a hopeless escape for Eveline. Ulin noted Katherine Muller's article where she “points out that 1889 saw a boom in migration to Argentina, but that...died out...because of...[it's] reputation as a land of betrayal, exploitation, and disappointment” (“Eveline”). Frank trapping Eveline in a strange, foreign land seems terrible enough, but this proof concludes that Eveline never would have found what she wanted anyway. Even if she decided to go with Frank and later leave him, her future looks dismal in the promised place of Argentina. Another point would include Ulin's finding of “purity tracts of the 1990s told stories of girls lured from Ireland by the promise of marriage and sold into the white slave trade” (“Eveline”). This makes Frank's image appear darker, and proves that Eveline trying to elope with a stranger would give no satisfaction whatsoever. James Joyce's choice in Buenos Aires and these events going on creates a fruitless quest for Eveline, for she would never succeed whether she had left or not. The history that ties in with Eveline's lucky failure to flee her home differentiates itself with Jig's own result in attempting persuading her partner.

In this case, Jig and the American are stuck with the prospect of having a family or staying with their hedonistic lifestyle for a short while longer. As mentioned, the closure Hemingway offers veers readers off into the darkness to find their own source of light, and Jig tries to reason with the American for her more meaningful choice. He struggles greatly with the idea of having a permanent relationship because he never quite considered their relationship serious. However, due to Jig's own very defiant will and as Renner states the American “assuring her that he will go along with what she wants while.. pressuring her to do what he wants,” it would seem the American would have to keep his word (33). Mostly due to the fact that Jig decides to have the baby, and the American's pressuring has no effect on Jig. She plans on sticking with the baby even if that means leaving the American, and because of some key moments, he complies. The American moving the bags on to “the other side” personifies a key moment that will run in a hypothesis presented (297). Stanley Renner theorizes of how this moment signifies that the American “is going to [Jig's] way” and mans himself to start supporting something a new family. Jig's way being the side of the train station that symbolizes fertility and life, compared to his dry and arid habits. Furthermore, the actions of the couple after this moment proves that Jig wins the final argument in their discussion.

Accordingly, the couple subtly make hints at them both staying together, with some understanding to each others issues. Particularly, by the end Jig recognizes that the American finally acquiesces to Jig having the baby, and prepares for a brighter and more purposeful future.Taking the bags to the other side, Jig “smiled at” the American, and continued to smile as though something really good happened (297). It's obvious she would not celebrate her having an abortion, because we know she opposes this option. Evidently that would mean she is smiling at her winning the argument and about them having a possible future together. While Jig smiles at the prospect of a new life with her baby, the American finishes things off with a sort of farewell to his bachelor days. He decides on drinking an “Anis at the bar and looked at the people” who also waited for the train (297). Stanley Renner depicts this as “accepting the medicinal flavor of the prospect he is facing,” and seeing the other people wait for the train “in the girl's direction” (36). The American understands the way that the other people and the couple go in represents a resolute and inertly successful path. Especially compared with his own way that involved drinking, short term relationships, and wandering from place to place for a while. Their lifestyles and choices made them come to an agreement to go a different path than the one set for them.

Eveline and Jig from their stories were given dilemmas that helped them realize a different aspect of themselves, and hands them the strength to change their life. They both shared different lifestyles, controlled by a man, and have to determine whether or not a new path is right for them. However, the stories do share their differing aspects. Eveline fears her life would end just like her mother, and Jig fears rejection from the man she loves. Eveline plans to escape the life she promised, and nearly ends up in a trap by a sailor. Jig nearly ends the life of the baby she wants in order to stay with a man she loves and manages to persuade him to stay with her and go into a better life. Eveline ends up staying with her abusive father, but in exchange for realizing that she would end up no different than her mother for leaving. Both of the girls encompass the woman having to choose between life or love in their situations.

Works Cited

Dilworth, Thomas. "The Numina Of Joyce's 'Eveline'." Studies In Short Fiction 15.4 (1978): 456-458. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.

Hemingway, Ernest. “The Hills Like White Elephants.” Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, et al. 294-297.

Joyce, James. “Eveline.” Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, et al. 4-7.

McMahan, Elizabeth, et al. Literature and the Writing Process. Boston: Longman, 2011. Print.

Lanier, Doris. "The Bittersweet Taste Of Absinthe In Hemingway's 'Hills Like White Elephants'."

Studies In Short Fiction 26.3 (1989): 279-288. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

Renner, Stanley. "Moving To The Girl's Side Of `Hills Like White Elephants'." Hemingway Review 15.1 (1995): 27. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.

Ulin, Julieann. "Eveline." Facts on File Companion to the British Short Story. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 31 March 2012.



The biggest problem here is that your writing lacks precision. Sometimes this imprecision is caused by problems of syntax or usage (as though you know exactly what you want to say but the desire to say it in the style of an academic is getting in the way of your saying it clearly) and sometimes it's a result of vagueness (so that I'm unsure on first reading whether you know exactly what you want to say). The penultimate sentence of the first paragraph seems to be an example of both problems at once. The last sentence of the first paragraph is perhaps also an example of the second problem, vagueness, and since that sentence appears to be your thesis statement, the problem is all the more serious. Don't be put off by this criticism, however. You need only to work on putting precision and clarity above whatever stylistic considerations affect the way you write. For example, Eveline is not "grieving due to an imperious male." She is mistreated by her father.

As for the content of the essay, most of the sentences are descriptive; you describe what happens in each story. Very few of the claims are argumentative or interpretive. The claims that are argumentative or interpretive, however, are not clear enough, and I end up not knowing what you really want me to think about the stories. In other words, your essay offers very little sense of what the significance of either story is. You relate the content of each story and you point to similarities and differences between the two stories in terms of theme and character, but you don't answer, in either case, the crucial question: So what? That is to say, you don't attempt to explain what either story might teach us about relationships or about renunciation or about responsibility and obligation. You don't tell us what the point of these stories is. In short, you don't come to an interpretive conclusion. And, ultimately, I'm not completely convinced by your essay that there are meaningful grounds for comparison and contrast between the two stories that you address. I suppose it is true that Eveline and Jig are both faced with a decision, but we are all faced with decisions all the time. However, I've not read the Hemingway story, so my being unconvinced should probably be taken with a grain of salt. For the same reason, I cannot comment directly on your response to that story , but in the case of Joyce's "Eveline," it seems to me that the reader is encouraged to think a bit about whether Eveline's refusal is a symptom of paralysis or an ethical decision, a symptom of weakness or courage. (For what it is worth, I think a more useful comparison might be made between "Eveline" and Henry James’ _The Portrait of a Lady_).

You end by saying "Both of the girls encompass the woman having to choose between life or love in their situations." I'm not sure that you would stand by that description if pressed, and more importantly I don't think you have tried to demonstrate methodically that that was the nature of the choice that both characters faced. I do think, however, that where you end would be a good place to begin your essay. That is, it would be a good idea to begin with the question, What is the nature of the choice that both characters have to make?

Two language notes

Dangling Modifiers:

Still controversial to this day Renner's Hemingway Review states that, Jig and the American “are trying to agree on whether or not she should have an abortion,” and both oppose each others opinion (28). (Unless you want to say that Renner’s study is controversial, the first five words of this sentence constitute a dangling modifier.)

Sentence Fragments (Two examples, with something in common):

‘Possibly due to the fact that Eveline would soon realize that she only used Frank as a means to escape her own problems at home.”

‘Mostly due to the fact that Jig decides to have the baby, and the American's pressuring has no effect on Jig.”

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: RanMori

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