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A clean well-lighted place by ernest hemingway essay

Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and begins with the reader being introduced to the three main characters.

The narrator tells the reader that the old man has previously attempted to commit suicide which may be important as it introduces a sense of despair for the old man into the story. It is also interesting that the old man still wishes that his life was over as this further suggests or highlights the idea of despair.

A Clean Well Lighted Place: Theme Analysis

This may be important as it highlights the idea of connection or the fact that the younger waiter feels as though he has something to live for his wife unlike the old man.

He too is as lonely as the old man and if anything he seems to realise that the same fate awaits him as does the old man, that being remaining alone. Hemingway possibly using alcohol in the story as a tool in which the old man is able to find some comfort or is able to escape from the realities of his life. It is also interesting that while the older waiter has sympathy for the old man, the younger waiter appears to have none.

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At no stage in the story is there a sense that the younger waiter is able to connect or relate to the old man. He recognises himself in the old man and he knows his own life is lonely. What is not as clear as Hemingway gives little insight into the old man is whether or not the old man like the older waiter believes that life is about and means nothing nihilism. This idea of nihilism is explored while the older waiter is talking to himself.

It is possible that by doing so Hemingway is highlighting to the reader the futility for some people of prayer or religion and that in essence life means nothing.

  • A loss of faith erases any chance of having a normal life;
  • He is not just literally deaf, but deaf to the world;
  • However, the author shows a way to escape the pain of "nada;
  • The truth is buried underneath the storythe emotional darkness, eventual isolation, and existential depression caused by the nada, the nothingness;
  • Everything else is just "a nothing;
  • However, the author shows a way to escape the pain of "nada.

Hemingway also appears to be using symbolism in the story. The reader discovers that the old man is deaf.

  1. He "liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference" 174.
  2. It is well lighted. His views on life are in some ways the opposite of how the younger waiter views life.
  3. It is well lighted.
  4. Existential depression is yet another technique Hemingway uses to convey the story's underlying theme.
  5. Everything else is just "a nothing.

This may be important as symbolically Hemingway may be suggesting that the old man is disconnected from others which would further emphasis the idea of loneliness. The fact that the older waiter also notices that one of the counters in the bar is unpolished may also have some symbolic significance.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway also appears to be using light in the story as symbolism. His views on life are in some ways the opposite of how the younger waiter views life. Unlike the older waiter, the younger waiter is full of youth and confidence, two things that the old man and older waiter lack. Throughout the story there is also a continued sense of connection, or at least attempts at connection.

"A Clean Well-Lighted Place"

There is the fact that the old man is in the cafe, he wants to be around people, even if he is sitting alone. Which may further emphasis the sense of loneliness that the older waiter feels. He also knows that he will lie in bed alone waiting to sleep and that there are others just like him who must suffer with insomnia. Whether or not the older waiter really suffers with insomnia is not clear.

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What may cause his lack of sleep is the fact that he is aware that his life means nothing, a dark reality for any person.

What is also interesting at the end of the story is that though the older waiter is lonely he still reaches out in some ways to others. Cite Post McManus, Dermot. The Sitting Bee, 8 Feb.