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The decision that could have been

The Decision That Could Have Been

Everyday people make decisions that affect their future lives. Do people

make the right decisions? What makes a decision a right one? What may be right

to some, may be wrong to others. There are no right or wrong decisions but those

that people choose and believe to be right varying from each individual. In

Hemingway's realistic story, Hills Like White Elephants, Jig attempts to make a

crucial change in her life by making the right decision, but is unable to because of

her weak characteristic flaws. Jig is indecisive about her decision. Even though

she realizes the possibilities, she has difficulties letting go of old habits, has a low

self-esteem that leads to her being submissive, and puts up a frail fight by hiding

her feelings behind her sarcastic comments.

Jig faces an immense decision that will change her future. She must choose

between the old and the new lifestyle. It is hard for her to let go of old habits that

consists of taking no responsibility and the sole intention of seeking pleasure. She

must go from a young worriedless rebel to a stable adult taking responsibility. It's

a hard process since there are three steps to changing: realization, doing the deed,

and committing to the change. She definitely realizes she needs to change, but only

goes that far. She does walk to the end of the station and looks upon the fertile side

of the valley and comments "and we could have all this," but she continues

drinking when she knows well that she carries a child in her womb. She even says

the alcohol tastes like licorice, that everything tastes the same, and she's getting

tired of her same old life. Surely, she must know the possible damage she can cause

the baby to have, but does it stop her from drinking? No, this only indicates that she

is still not ready to change completely. Even though she wants to change,

something, perhaps her old ways, is holding her back from doing so. Maybe this

explains why she drinks during her pregnancy.

Jig has many characteristics that define her as being a weak character. Due

to her submissive quality, she gives in to her lover regardless her own feelings. One

of the reasons why she feels the need to make him happy lies in her fear of losing

him. "And if I do it you'll be happy and things will be like they were and you'll

love me?" Apparently, Jig is willing to sacrifice her own will for his, if it means

making him happy. She struggles on a decision between her mind and her heart.

Her mind is telling her to keep the baby, but her heart is telling her the opposite-to

go through the operation. It is a decision between her love for him and willingness

to make him happy versus her self- interest to make the right decision. Obviously,

it is her low self- esteem that gears her towards giving in to him. "If I do it you

won't ever worry...then I'll do it because I don't care about me." This quotes clearly

shows how she is passive and submissive. Her weak flaw lies in the fact that she

doesn't consider her feelings in her decision makings. She pocesses qualities that

make her a feeble character incapable of changing and making decisions that make

her an unreliable and unwillful character.

Another weak flaw is seen through her inability to speak out against her

lover. It's as if she tries to avoid any quarrels from occurring. She uses sarcastic

means to hide her true feelings about the issue. This is her only way of showing

disagreements towards him. Either she is afraid to speak out her real emotions or

she is being too tolerant and considerate towards him. When he tells Jig that he's

known people who have gone through with it before, she comments, "So have

I...and afterwards they were all so happy." On the surface she agrees with him that

everything will be the same afterwards, but, underneath she really knows that the

abortion will bring them everything but happiness. Her sarcastic usage hides her

feeling so well that it seems as if she doesn't even try to tell him she doesn't want to

go through with it. At the end, Jig tries one last time to imply to her lover that she

disagrees with him by saying, "I feel fine, there's nothing wrong with me. I feel

fine." Her sarcastic remark is not a strong way of going about trying to convince

him that deep inside something is really bothering her. It can sometimes be

confusing for she tells him one thing but means the other. His power over her is so

great that she feels intimidated to oppose him directly. Instead, she indicates her

opposition towards him indirectly through her sarcastic comments.

In conclusion, Hemingway's character Jig in Hills Like White Elephants was

unable to change her life through her decision due to her frail characteristics. Some

reasons that lead up to her failure were: the hardships of letting go of the old

lifestyle, the power Jig's lover has over her due to her low self-esteem and

submissive being, and the weakness behind hiding true emotions by using sarcastic

means. Jig walked back towards the station into the shades of the sterile side of the

valley. A dark cloud covered her head and she knew what was going to become of

herself after the "simple" operation. In the end, everyone must choose and follow

their own paths, whether their decisions were right or wrong, each direction leads to

the beginning of a new journey.

Source: Essay UK -

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