Essay Example on A Comparative Analysis of 'Hills like White Elephants' and 'Good People'

Paper Type: 
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1120 Words
Date:  2023-09-11

The short stories 'Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and ‘Good People Foster Wallace' both have similarities ad several differences in terms of their plot overview themes, symbolism, narrative styles, among others. The two stories tell a specific topic through a stylistic form of the literary kind of writing to bring in unique creativity and attention to the reader. They both use fictional descriptions to bring out the ultimate meaning and theme of their stories; therefore, this essay will seek to illustrate the comparisons and contrast between the two stories.

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The 'Good people' story begins with the discussion between couples on the prospects of going through with an abortion in a picnic table by the park. They both seem reluctant about the decision to go through with the procedure. The major conflict with the man his name is Lane is his Christian beliefs. In the story 'Hills like White Elephants,' the story begins with an illustration of a relationship between a lady and a man having a conversation. The two are about the decision of whether to terminate the life of their unborn baby as they drink a couple of beers. Therefore the two stories are similar as the characters are both expecting a child but are not ready to have it, so they are thinking of having an abortion.

We all have religious and personal beliefs that mold the way we think and make decisions throughout our lives. Lane, in the story The Good people are faced with the tough decision of going against his religious beliefs and his battle as to whether he is genuinely the right person by even thinking of committing such an 'atrocious' act. The bible shuns murder, and by going through with the abortion, he is guilty of doing so as well as abortion is also ignored within the society it is even considered as murder in other countries. "alone and thinking or struggling to turn a matter over to Jesus Christ in prayer." (Wallace 150) This phrase shows the struggle he had in making the decision.

In the Hills like White Elephants, the story is almost similar. Although the author describes the American and the girl's character, he doesn't give them any name, "The American and the girl." (Hemingway 114) Hemingway, however, reveals the name of the girl as the story unfolds as Jig. The story is also unclear as they don't directly speak about abortion, unlike how Lane and Sheri talk openly about it. The conversation they have is mainly about the taste of the beers and drinks they are having and the ones they see of the counter. This is a mechanism they both use to avoid talking about the real issue they are facing.

Wallace, on the other hand, illustrates the entire story through the thoughts of the main character Lane, the original idea of the story is the battle between being a good person by making the right decision when it comes to going through with the abortion in which his girlfriend has decided to go with.

‘He pretended it had no name. He pretended that not saying aloud what he knew to be right and true was for her sake, was for her needs'. (Wallace, 170) he even describes the decision making as being balanced between a knife and a wire. Both have negative consequences. "Two-hearted, a hypocrite to yourself either way." (Wallace 153)If he chose to keep it, he would be going against what he and his girlfriend want, and they were not ready for that kind of responsibility, and at the same time if he went with the choice to go through with the abortion, he would be going against what his faith required of him.

Whereas in the 'Hills like White Elephants,' the character of the man seems to be unbothered by the fact that they were going to have an abortion. He even describes the procedure as a simple and also considered it to be too minor to be termed as an operation, so she shouldn't worry that much which shows the lack of empathy and kindness towards such a sensitive matter. "that's the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that has made us unhappy" (Hemmingway, 130) He goes ahead to promise that he will be present with her during the 'operation' and that they will be both happy for they would have solved their biggest problem.

In the Good people, we see the respect Lane had for his girlfriend as he states that he would be supportive of whatever decision Sheri would make in the end. (Wallace, 170) Their relationship would still be regardless, whereas, in Hemmingway's Hills like White elephants, the American man is shown to be unbothered by Jig's feelings.

The American man states how they will be both happy when she goes through with the abortion, which shows that if she decides to keep it, they will not be happy, which will lead to their separation. He then makes an ironic statement that Jig doesn't have to go through with the operation if she doesn't wish to, but at the same time, he mentions how happy they would be if she went through with the 'minor’ operation.

Lastly, the form of narration the Hemmingway uses in the narration of his story is through the third-person voice. The whole story is based on a dialogue between the two characters, thus leading the reader to interpret and find out what the story is about. Abortion is not openly mentioned in the story, unlike in the Wallace story 'Good People.' It is evident after they severally the going through some sort of operation and how it is simple, which shows that it wasn't anything urgent or harmful.

The 'Good People' however, uses the third persona but from the point of one character Lane. The reader gets to understand the text through the inner thoughts of the main character, and the writer also uses a bit of dialogue to expound on the story and also for readers to get in touch with the story. (Wallace, 112) The narrative aspect of it, however, is the main form in which the writer uses as it creates a deeper and complex way of understanding the complexity of the abortion issue.


In conclusion, 'The Good People' and 'Hills like White Elephants' are similar in their storylines as they are both centered on the decision to undergo an abortion. Both texts are creative as well as different in the ways they describe the story in order to express the deeper meaning.

Work Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. "Hills like white elephants." Men without women (1927).Wallace, David Foster. "Good People." NEW YORKER-NEW YORKER MAGAZINE INCORPORATED- 2007 (2007): 66.

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Essay Example on A Comparative Analysis of 'Hills like White Elephants' and 'Good People'. (2023, Sep 11). Retrieved from

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