Hills Like White Elephants Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan will help students cite text evidence when drawing inferences and analyze the characters' conflicting motives as they read 'Hills Like White Elephants' by Ernest Hemingway.

Learning Objective

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Cite textual evidence to support inferences in 'Hills Like White Elephants' by Ernest Hemingway
  • Analyze the characters' conflicting motivations


60-90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.


  • Inferences
  • White Elephant gift


  • copies of 'Hills Like White Elephants' by Ernest Hemingway
  • paper
  • pens
  • highlighters of 2 different colors

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • As a warm up, read Hills Like White Elephants: Summary, Characters, and Setting as a class, then discuss:
    • What is the setting of the story?
    • What technique does the author use to introduce the themes of the story?
    • How does the conversation between the girl and the American change by the second drink?
    • How are the motives between the two characters different?
    • How does the fertile landscape relate to the girl's hopes?
    • Describe the American.
    • Describe the girl.
  • Turn and talk:
    • What do you think will happen after the couple leaves the train? Why do you think that?
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to assess their understanding of the story.
  • Check the answers as a class.


Making Inferences

  • Display the Abraham Lincoln quote:

'If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.'

  • What does Lincoln mean?
  • Explain that students used inferencing to get meaning from that quote. Review the term inferences for students.
  • Display the following quote from L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz:

'You see, in this country are a number of youths who do not like to work, and the college is an excellent place for them.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account