Time and physical setting

Published in 1927, “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is probably meant to take place in the 1920s. The story takes place during a summer’s day. The dialogue between the characters takes places over less than an hour.

Though not exactly precise, the physical setting is the only element that the narrator depicts with details. The broad setting is Spain. The specific setting is a train station’s bar, somewhere between Barcelona and Madrid, close to the Ebro River.

The setting is described on various scales, from the broader picture of the landscape with “long and white” hills to the specific details of the bar with a curtain “made of strings of bamboo beads”. The atmosphere is almost suffocating, perhaps representin...

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