Moreover, Hemingway was always extremely careful with every word; each word had meaning that was often deeper than what it appeared to be.
It could be argued that he was a pathological tightwad when it came to his use of words; in other words, less was more for Hemingway. "Staking everything on it: a stylistic analysis of linguistic patterns in 'Hills like White Elephants'." The Hemingway Review, 23.2 (2004): 1-5.
The contrast between the white hills and the dark drinks -- along with the fact that absinthe is believed to be an aphrodisiac -- lend a curious sense of tension to the story from the very beginning.
"Everything tastes of liquorice," she says to him, sounding impatient and inferring that things have not being going well in their relationship.
Nagel believes Hemingway did this to "portend eventual separation for the couple" (2).
Scholar David Wyche references other critics who interpret meanings and ironies in the story that are worthy meat for discussion.
In this story, the ultimate meaning is that the man does not wish to take responsibility for the woman's pregnancy and on the other hand she has superior imagination, vision, understanding, and knowledge of the natural world and of humanity.
The white elephant to her is a rare and beautiful thing but to him the white elephant is something of less value he would rather avoid.
And the third image for a white elephant in common narrative usage is that it is something worthless; for example, a "white elephant sale" is a fundraiser in which people donate gifts they don't need and don't want and those gifts are priced very low because people who buy them will have to dream up a potential use for them.
Like a chef blending different ingredients into a stew, Weeks mixes the white elephant theme with a sprinkle of the pregnancy and a dash of abortion images, and comes up with a stark image.