English / Ernest Hemmingway A Clean Well-Lighted Place

Ernest Hemmingway A Clean Well-Lighted Place

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Autor:  anton  06 April 2011
Tags:  Ernest,  Hemmingway,  lighted
Words: 726   |   Pages: 3
Views: 262

Melissa Narvaez

Essay Assignment #1

In the short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” Ernest Hemingway shows his unique style by using contrasting images of the old man and the discussion between the two waiters. One can see many themes that Hemingway uses throughout the story. For example, aging seems to be a main issue in the story. His text and choice of words give the reader a gloomy tone, especially in the beginning of the story: “It was late and every one had left the cafй except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light” (154). This shadow shows the darkness in relation to the deaf old man.

We come across two waiters in the story whom one is stated to be the younger waiter and his colleague; we could guess is the older waiter. Sometimes instead of age difference, Hemingway would label them as the unhurried or hurried waiter. The reader has to keep in mind of the different personalities of the waiter in order to figure out who is speaking. At some points, the author allows the reader to become confused on who is speaking in order to show his style. “A device of Hemingway’s style is sometimes to have a character pause, then speak again- as often happens in actual speech” (155).

Even though it can get confusing on who is speaking at some point, the two waiters have different views and personalities. For instance, the younger waiter seems completely casual about the fact that the deaf old man had tried to commit suicide. Instead, “I wish he would go home. I never get to bed before three o’clock. What kind of hour is that to go to bed?” (156). The younger waiter seems impatient and wants the old man to leave so he could go home to his wife. He also seems to have something against aging because he says that an old man is a ‘nasty thing’ and that he would not want to be as old as the deaf man (156). He only wants to get to bed early and wants to the old man to leave but he does not seem to understand that the old man needs this “clean, well-lighted place.”

The deaf old man continues to drink more rounds of brandy even after having to try to commit suicide the previous week. His deafness keeps him separated from his surroundings and the two waiters. “’Why didn’t you let him stay and drink?’” the unhurried waiter asked (156). The older waiter seems more understanding with the deaf old man and to why the cafй is important him. “’I am one of those who like to stay late at the cafй,’ the older waiter said. With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night” (157). His insomnia keeps him from wanting to go to sleep like the younger waiter. The older waiter’s insomnia can relate to the deaf old man’s continuous drinking of brandy. He keeps on drinking to drown in his sense of loneliness and to finally find his level of “sleep.”

“After all, he said to himself, it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it” (158). Many, like the old waiter himself, finds this “clean well-lighted place” a place necessary for those who have nowhere to go. He repeats that “it was all a nothing and a man was nothing too.” This seems to explain the uselessness of life that the deaf old man must be feeling as he keeps on ordering for more brandy. After all, the two waiters discuss his previous attempt of suicide but he was stopped because the deaf old man’s niece had saved him. Before going to his room, the older waiter speaks at the end of the story of the “universal insomnia” because he believes that the cafй is “a clean, well-lighted place” for the people who want to try to find a place of safety or peace so they could get away from the from the darkness of the outside world or the daily living of a depressed life.

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