23 October 2014
Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat
Hills Like White Elephants
Both of these stories have an indirect dialogue about them. In both, you can sense that the characters are talking about abortion but neither of the narrators says that directly. While the context may be somewhat similar in Russell Banks’ “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat” and Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, they are both different also.
Banks’ story tells about a man and a woman who lives in a trailer park and to me seems like their relationship is one-sided and controlled very much by the female. Since the man is black I think that the white woman feels that she thinks she knows what’s best when it comes to their relationship issues; she did not consult the man about her final decision, which led me to this conclusion. One day the couple decided to go to the lake near the trailer park. While in the boat, the woman began to tan and tries to lure the man by her looks. After being in the lake for a minute, they then start to talk about what’s going on in their relationship. The woman says, “I’m already putting on weight” (64) which to the readers indicate that she is pregnant, then she goes on to tell the man that she told her mother about their situation. The woman tells the man that she told her mother that she loves him very much, but I don’t think it is true. If she really loved him then she would have taken into consideration his view on things instead of just going about things on just what her and her mother want to do. While still talking to the man she mentions that her mother gets worried about her because she’s had “some close calls” (65). Of course the man questions the close calls and she says, “Oh, you know. Depression” (65). Soon after that, she tells the man that she has already scheduled the appointment and her mother is going with her that afternoon. This expresses to the reader that she is getting the abortion and she didn’t consult with the man about anything. When the man and the woman headed back to shore he said, “I wish I could just leave you here” (66). They rowed back near her trailer and the woman went on with her mother to have her abortion while the man went his separate way to begin his life without her.
Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” tells the story of a man and his girlfriend at a train station drinking and chatting while waiting on their train to Madrid to arrive. While drinking their beers, the girl announces that the hills close by look like white elephants to her. The American man and the girl, who he calls Jig, order more drinks and he mentions that he wants her to have an operation. I think most readers would see this operation as an abortion. He tries to tell Jig that the operation “is not really an operation at all” (417), trying to make it seem not as bad. Jig starts to worry about what might happen after the operation and the man reaffirms her that everything will be just fine like before the operation. The man lets Jig know that he doesn’t want to force her into having the operation if it isn’t something she really wants to do, but he still thinks that it is the best choice for their relationship. The girl tells the man, “I don’t care about me” (418). As long as he still loves her and as long as they will be able to live happily afterwards she says, “I’ll do it and then everything will be fine (418). The bartender hands them each another drink and lets them know that their train will be arriving soon. Before they left the man asked her, “Do you feel better?” (419) She responded, “I feel fine, there’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” (419)
In both stories the characters try to encourage his or her partner to make a big decision. Abortion. Each story has a significant other who is trying to reassure the other that everything will be fine after the procedure. Both authors don’t give names in their stories. Hemingway only gives a nickname to one character. Each author also tells their story through conversation-like writing and there is not a lot of dialogue tags. Banks’ and Hemingway both tell their stories without telling them. Nothing they wrote in these stories were direct. They left things unsaid for the reader to figure out and this makes these stories unique to me. Everything just isn’t plain black and white; there are some grey areas for the reader. The main topic in both stories are heavy to most people, but for the topic to never be directly mentioned in either story and it still make sense to readers are what make these two authors as fascinating as they are.
Banks, Russell. “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charles. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 62-67. Print.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charles. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 416-19. Print.