Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Hills Like White Hemingways"

Let me Hemingway this posting:

"What's this story about?"
"A couple."
"Lovers? Spouses?"
"Lovers, I think."
"I think the woman (why is she called a girl? Demeans her, doesn't it?) is pregnant.The man wants her to have an abortion."
"So it appears."
"A hill like a white elephant sounds like a caucasian pregnant woman's abdomen at 37 weeks gestation."
"That's silly."
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. But there is that reminder in there--it goes along with the plot of the story, doesn't it?"
"This wears me out. Quit talking to me."
"I'll stop. If you want me to."
"I really do."

All that aside, here's the striking thing for me: how this couple is "talking" (which is supposed to help a relationship, right? They aren't yelling; they are being polite, and yet I feel that the woman is needing to be let alone and loved and that the man is being dismissive and selfish, or somehow missing the point of her feelings. What do you think?What is this story about? Failed communication? A man failing a woman? A woman failing herself by not standing up to defend herself against even gentle coercion to do something she probably does not wish to?It seems like an act, too. The fact that the two can be in this intense conversation and slip out of the dialogue to ask for "dos cervezas" suggests or mirrors the lightness with which humans can engage with each other--the destractiblity. (I am also thinking of fetal alcohol syndrome with this woman drinking while pregnant). Let me explain. Have you ever been having an argument or cross words with someone in your household and the phone rings and you're all collected and polite to the person on the other end? To me this suggests a problem in human verbal (oral) behavior. We are as if we are acting a script when we do this, aren't we? That we are saying words when we could as well say other words, but we are choosing these words? Is this, in other words, an authentic conversation in this story? The awfulness of choosing failing behavior or speech also has it's escape in it, however--that it is a choice, and one can choose a healing behavior, or healing words.


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