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Hills Like White Elephants

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‘Hills Like White Elephants’

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Apr 7
Megan J (Apr 07 2021 6:54PM) : I was curious as to what the meaning of white elephants. Google revealed that "A white elephant is a burdensome asset, property, or investment whose cost of upkeep is not in line with its usefulness/value. more

It also said the term refers to and impractical gift that cannot be easily disposed of.

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by Ernest Hemingway (1927)

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Apr 7
Alyssa P (Apr 07 2021 10:42PM) : 1927: getting close to the end of the roaring 20s and going into the great depression in the 30s.
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The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went on to Madrid.

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Apr 7
Aaron H (Apr 07 2021 7:13PM) : yes more

He sets the setting as being in spain, and there are three of them. One is a girl and by saying that one is american it can be inferred that he is not American.

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Apr 7
Kristina W (Apr 07 2021 12:08AM) : Throughout this story the female character is referred to as girl while the male is referred to as a man. more

Given that they are both drinking they are both of an adult age, so referring to her as girl may be a way of showing that she is either to naïve or immature to make adult life decisions

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Apr 7
Gracie W (Apr 07 2021 1:10PM) : I saw the reference to her as a "girl" as a reflection of her personality, it seems that some of her comments come off as yes, young- especially with the many questions she asks
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“What should we drink?” the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.

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“It’s pretty hot,” the man said.

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“Let’s drink beer.”

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“Dos cervezas,” the man said into the curtain.

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“Big ones?” a woman asked from the doorway.

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“Yes. Two big ones.”

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The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glasses on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of the hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.

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Apr 6
Olivia B (Apr 06 2021 9:22AM) : This particular sentence shows juxtaposition of two parts of the scenery. This also seems that the woman longs to be in another place, away from a mundane life of constantly drinking and watching the train.
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Apr 7
Kristina W (Apr 07 2021 12:11AM) : I agree, showing the contrast of the bright white distant compared to the dull and boring surroundings shows her envy of escaping to somewhere else. [Edited]
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Apr 7
Bradley W (Apr 07 2021 10:10PM) : I also agree. I believe the juxtaposition is also shown between the two views of each other. more

“They look like white elephants,” she said.

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“I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer.

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“No, you wouldn’t have.”

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“I might have,” the man said. “Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.”

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The girl looked at the bead curtain. “They’ve painted something on it,” she said. “What does it say?”

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“Anis del Toro. It’s a drink.”

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“Could we try it?”

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The man called “Listen” through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.

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“Four reales.”

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“We want two Anis del Toro.”

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“With water?”

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“Do you want it with water?”

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“I don’t know,” the girl said. “Is it good with water?”

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“It’s all right.”

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“You want them with water?” asked the woman.

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“Yes, with water.”

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“It tastes like licorice,” the girl said and put the glass down.

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“That’s the way with everything.”

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“Yes,” said the girl. “Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.”

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Apr 5
Brooke H (Apr 05 2021 5:43PM) : absinthe is a type of alcohol described as a highly alcoholic spirit- which implies that they both drink a lot, especially the woman more

absinthe is also anise-flavored, which tastes like licorice, and since she says that everything tastes like licorice probably means she drinks in abundance.

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Apr 7
Aaron H (Apr 07 2021 7:14PM) : I agree with you, this is a very strong spirit

“Oh, cut it out.”

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“You started it,” the girl said. “I was being amused. I was having a fine time.”

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“Well, let’s try and have a fine time.”

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“All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?”

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“That was bright.”

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“I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?”

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Apr 7
Alyssa P (Apr 07 2021 10:46PM) : she reveals the boredom she feels towards her life
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“I guess so.”

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The girl looked across at the hills.

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“They’re lovely hills,” she said. “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.”

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“Should we have another drink?”

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Apr 7
Bradley W (Apr 07 2021 10:13PM) : Seems as the man is almost ignoring her, not even listening to what she is saying.
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“All right.”

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The warm wind blew the beat curtain against the table.

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“The beer’s nice and cool,” the man said.

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“It’s lovely,” the girl said.

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“It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,” the man said. “It’s not really an operation at all.”

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Apr 6
Ava M (Apr 06 2021 10:47AM) : The man is really pushing the girl to get the procedure and convincing her that everything will go back to normal afterwards. This shows the very controlling and demanding nature of the man.
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The girl looked at the ground the table legs rested on.

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“I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.”

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The girl did not say anything.

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Apr 7
Gracie W (Apr 07 2021 1:13PM) : The majority of the piece is made of short sentences which may reflect the simple repetitive life they are living, but moments of silence reiterate the fact that despite the casual banter, life isn't all sunshine and roses
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“I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural.”

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“Then what will we do afterward?”

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“We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before.”

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“What makes you think so?”

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“That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.”

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The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.

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“And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.”

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“I know we will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it.”

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“So have I,” said the girl. “And afterward they were all so happy.”

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“Well,” the man said, “if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.”

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“And you really want to?”

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“I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.”

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“And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?”

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Apr 6
Ava M (Apr 06 2021 10:50AM) : He is using a mix of pathos, saying she will love him, and logos, them being able to travel without anything holding them down, to try to persuade her into a decision.
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“I love you now. You know I love you.”

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“I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll like it?”

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Apr 6
Olivia B (Apr 06 2021 9:26AM) : This operation seems like it will change what their love/relationship has become.

“I’ll love it. I love it now but I just can’t think about it. You know how I get when I worry.”

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“If I do it you won’t ever worry?”

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“I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple.”

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“Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.”

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“What do you mean?”

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“I don’t care about me.”

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“Well, I care about you.”

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“Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.”

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“I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.”

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The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.

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Apr 5
Emily C (Apr 05 2021 8:09PM) : "The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station," shows how she finds comfort in the land around her when upset. It seems like a peaceful distraction from her current life.
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Apr 7
Megan J (Apr 07 2021 6:48PM) : I feel like the imagery of the cloud changing the scenery kind of replicates the change in topic and intensity of their current conversation.

“And we could have all this,” she said. “And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.”

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“What did you say?”

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“I said we could have everything.”

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“We can have everything.”

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“No, we can’t.”

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“We can have the whole world.”

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“No, we can’t.”

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“We can go everywhere.”

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“No, we can’t. It isn’t ours any more.”

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“It’s ours.”

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“No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.”

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“But they haven’t taken it away.”

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“We’ll wait and see.”

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“Come on back in the shade,” he said. “You mustn’t feel that way.”

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Apr 6
Montana P (Apr 06 2021 2:14PM) : She may feel like she needs to be in control more

The man aims to lessen the tension in the conversation as she continues to get angry at the discussion and him, she denies his offer but a few sentences later, she comes back and drinks another beer only when it is her idea.

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Apr 7
Aaron H (Apr 07 2021 7:19PM) : I agree with that, he doesn't want direct conflict.
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“I don’t feel any way,” the girl said. “I just know things.”

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“I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do—”

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“Nor that isn’t good for me,” she said. “I know. Could we have another beer?”

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“All right. But you’ve got to realize—”

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Apr 6
Montana P (Apr 06 2021 2:20PM) : The man seems stressed and worried about whatever is wrong with her, lending to his persistence in discussing the issue.
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Apr 7
Kristina W (Apr 07 2021 12:24AM) : By showing the worry from the man contrasts the way the girl reacts as well considering the decision is about her. She wants to avoid that conversation by finding distractions in the scenery and using alcohol as a distraction as well.

“I realize,” the girl said. “Can’t we maybe stop talking?”

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Apr 5
Emily C (Apr 05 2021 7:47PM) : Tension builds as the girl asks to stop talking altogether, but he doesn't acknowledge her request. This isn't the only time the man ignored her, which characterizes him as disrespectful.
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Apr 6
Montana P (Apr 06 2021 2:22PM) : I do not think that he is being disrespectful, he later says that he doesn't want to lose her, I think he is being so persistent out of worry and love, not disrespect.

They 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.

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“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.”

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Apr 5
Emily C (Apr 05 2021 8:04PM) : "I don't want you to do it if you don't want to" seems to be a different method to influence her. The man is really pushing for the "operation" before this, making it ironic that he would be fine with her not having it. more
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“Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along.”

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“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.”

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“Yes, you know it’s perfectly simple.”

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“It’s all right for you to say that, but I do know it.”

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“Would you do something for me now?”

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“I’d do anything for you.”

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“Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?”

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Apr 6
Ava M (Apr 06 2021 10:53AM) : The repetition of "please" shows that she is completely overwhelmed in this conversation and is desperate to escape it.
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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.

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“But I don’t want you go,” he said, “I don’t care anything about it.”

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“I’ll scream,” the girl said.

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The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. “The train comes in five minutes,” she said.

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“What did she say?” asked the girl.

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Apr 7
Gracie W (Apr 07 2021 1:18PM) : It becomes pretty evident by the end that something is weighing heavily on the girls mind, most likely the issue the couple has been discussing. As a reader it's saddening to see the struggle she is facing between her mind and heart.
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“That the train is coming in five minutes.”

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The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.

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Apr 5
Brooke H (Apr 05 2021 5:53PM) : before the women came over she was clearly desperate and devastated, but as soon as the women came she smiled "brightly at her" which shows she is presenting a persona that she unconsciously defaults to in hard situations
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“I’d better take the bags over to the other side of the station,” the man said. She smiled at him

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“All right. Then come back and we’ll finish the beer.”

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He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the barroom, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. HE went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.

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Apr 7
Alyssa P (Apr 07 2021 10:39PM) : I feel like this is a metaphor for the search of her original self. He looks up and down the tracks but does not see the train. The train is her original personality, and now that it is erased, she feels "fine".
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“Do you feel better?” he asked.

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“I feel fine,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.”

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Apr 5
Brooke H (Apr 05 2021 5:51PM) : the repetition throughout the piece of her repeating to herself and telling herself that she is fine, insisting on herself being fine, means she is most definitely not fine
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Apr 6
Olivia B (Apr 06 2021 9:31AM) : I agree. I sense that the operation has something to do with her brain, maybe a lobotomy? I also feel like the woman has one personality at the beginning and the progression of another as the piece comes to an end.
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Apr 7
Megan J (Apr 07 2021 7:00PM) : Yeah she seems a little crazy. Her personality switched up a lot from the beginning to the end.
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DMU Timestamp: March 19, 2021 22:17

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Apr 7
Bradley W (Apr 07 2021 10:18PM) : It's very strange to have a story where the two main characters aren't given names or descriptions at all. I don't really know the main purpose of that however.
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