2. Choose 3 of these texts. Analyze them and identify the work they come from, the author who wrote them and the period where they appeared. Discuss the period or movement they come from and the significance of the passage within the work and within the general context of English Literature. (60 %)
1They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.
‘You’ve got to realize,’ he said, ‘ that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.’
‘Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along.’
‘Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else. And I know it’s perfectly simple.’
‘Yes, you know it’s perfectly simple.’
‘It’s all right for you to say that, but I do know it.’
‘Would you do something for me now?’
‘I’d do anything for you.’
‘Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?’
He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights
AUTHOR (briefly) Ernest Hemingway, American writer of short stories and novels (like Death in the Afternoon or The Old Man and the Sea) who lived and published in the first half of the 20th century. He was a very popular writer when he was alive.
WORK "Hills Like White Elephants", a short story from the 1920s
PERIOD (Features of the period, especially if they can be seen in the passage) (briefly) Modernism, a set of cultural tendencies and movements that took place in the first half of the 20th century and which tried to break with the old tradition and the realistic concept of art. Modernist writers wanted their readers to make an effort to try to understand their texts, and liked to play with chronological order, narrative voice and point of view, as can be seen in this extract (objective narrative voice)
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PASSAGE IN THE WORK (longer) This is the point in the story when the two main characters ("the man" and "the girl") talk more explicitly about the main theme of the story: the fact the the girl is pregnant and that the man wants her to have an abortion.
The text makes a reference to the kind of life they had been living up to that point (travelling, hotels from all over the world, they are now in Spain, somewhere between Barcelona and Madrid), and that would change completely with the birth of a baby. We can also see the different attitudes displayed by the man ("I don't want anybody but you") and the girl ("we could get along") about the pregnancy.
There is also a small change in the power relationship within the couple. The man is always the person in control, the one who knows Spanish and seems to be in command, but here the insistence of the girl asking the man to stop might be suggesting her new, more active role, as does the end of the story, when she says that there is nothing wrong with her.
All these ideas are not so easy to perceive the first time you read the story, because the objective narrator chosen by Hemingway does not help the reader in any way: there are no references to the characters' thoughts and no extra information about them. This is also a very good example of the "iceberg technique" developed by Hemingway: describe only a small part and imply the rest. We have to imagine the characters' past and their future. The story seems easy to read because of the simple vocabulary and apparently realistic style, but the narrative voice and the "iceberg technique" are in fact examples of modernism at its best.