A Clean, Well-Lighted Place as Refugee from Reality The Short story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway is one of the stories from the collection Winner Take Nothing, published in 1933. This short story is very significant among the works of Hemingway, because it raises the question of suicide. It is accentual to look closer to the idea of this story in order to understand the reasons that brought Ernest Hemingway to his suicide in 1961. The major theme of the short story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place the opposition of the darkness and the light, cleanliness and dirt. In direct meaning the author contrasts the light and clean cafe with dirty and dark bars, the light of the day with the darkness of the night. You do not understand.
This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good (Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) The author not only discusses the advantages of cleanliness and light over dirt in physical meaning. These notions, darkness and light, cleanliness and dirt also carry philosophical connotation of good and evil, and Hemingway introduces two waiters as the representatives of these contrast notions. Two waiters, young and old, represent the contrast. The author makes the young waiter the symbol of darkness and dirt in his actions and thoughts, while the older waiter represents cleanliness and light. This contrast is evident in their attention towards profession and their attention towards life.
The Visions of Light Vs Darkness When Joseph Conrad composed Heart of Darkness he created a literary masterpiece which embodied the essence of light contrasting with darkness. Throughout the novel Conrad constantly utilizes the images of light and dark and uses them to mold a vision, which the reader is then able to use to decipher the literal and metaphorical meanings of the novel. As Conrad ...
The young waiter is reluctant to wait for the old man, who escapes from darkness in the lights of the cafe. The young waiter expresses the neglect of his position by refusing to serve to the customer. But he goes further and expresses his neglect of human life. “You should have killed yourself last week,” he said to the deaf man. (Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) The young waiter twice in the evening expressed his wish that the old man should have killed himself, because then this waiter would have less work and much sleep. The old waiter rebukes the young waiter for neglecting of the customer. The old waiter expresses the attention to his responsibilities, as well as the attention to other people.
“I am of those who like to stay late at the cafe,” 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.” (Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) Another major theme of the short story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is the contrast between youth and age, ignorance and experience. The young waiter represents the youthful confidence in his own self, in his own ability to solve all problems. With egoism and ignorance of his young age the young waiter thinks only about himself and the present moment. “I have confidence.
I am all confidence.” (Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) Being young this waiter thinks that he owns the world. His night sleep is not troubled by worries and regrets. “You have youth, confidence, and a job,” the older waiter said. “You have everything.” (Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) The old waiter represents the experience of the old age. He knows the bitter taste of disappointments and losses. The old waiter knows how at night sleep eluded him and thoughts and regrets and nostalgia came.
It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.” (Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, p. 112) The old waiter was young once; he was confident and reckless too. And now at night, in the darkness of his room he is chased by his mistakes. The old waiter can understand the people, who elude darkness, because he is one of them, he needs refugee in the light too. Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep.
... talent in a short story called "A Clean Well-Lighted Place". When he was 19 Hemingway enlisted in the army. He was rejected due ... he puts himself in the place of the older waiter who really has nothing but his work. Hemingway probably felt that he had ... by the peaceful atmosphere of the cafe but the younger waiter wants him to leave. Hemingway may have seen himself as the older ...
(Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) Another theme, which goes through the story, is the theme of Nada, or Nothing. The story is full of contrasts and oppositions. It was not a fear or dread. It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was a nothing too. (Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place) The author is analyzing the meaning of life and comes to the conclusion that life is nothing.
Their own life and life of others is nothing for people. This idea the author accents twice: when mentioning the attempted suicide of the old man, the customer of the cafe, and when the young waiter notice, that if the old man were dead, the waiter would not work too late. The theme of nothing is closely intervened with the opposition of darkness and light, dirt and cleanliness and old waiter and young waiter. The craving for the light symbolizes the aspiration of people to escape darkness, which is emptiness, oblivion and nothing. Darkness associates with the failures of their lives. It is interesting to notice, that in opposition of dirt and cleanliness nothing carries different polarization. Between dirt and cleanliness nothing is associated with cleanliness.
Here people require being in the clean surrounding, which would not remind them the dirt of their actions and thoughts. The old and the young waiter stay the symbols of all these oppositions. Young waiter is not aware of the consequences of his actions; he is yet to experience sleepless nights in dark and empty room, that is why his actions are harsh and thoughts unfair. The old waiter possesses the wisdom of experience; he knows the value of his actions. In one of his key works A Farewell To Arms Hemingway wrote: “No, that is the great fallacy; the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise.
They grow careful.” (Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms, p. 79) This idea can be fit into the story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Through his experience the old waiter comes to the transformation, his attitude towards people is patient and caring. According to the Christian religion the God values more not the righteous but the penitent. The author leads the reader to the conclusion, that the old waiter is the symbol of light; the young waiter is the symbol of the darkness. And above all them is nothing.
In the short story, A Clean Well Lighted Place, Hemingway explores his existential beliefs concerning the reasons for human existence. He sets the story during the Spanish civil war and employs three characters to communicate his views. In the story Hemingway espouses his belief that human beings should not deny their desires, arguing that true happiness lies in the individual s ability to live ...
Each person comes to understanding of his life from nothing, complete ignorance, but in order to avoid coming to nothing, people should preserve the light and cleanliness of their mind, as well as dignity. Bibliography Burgess, Anthony, Hemingway and his world. Norwich: Thames and Hudson, 1978 Hemingway, Ernest. “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” Mr. Bauld’s English 14 Apr. 2005.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. London: Arrow Books, 1994 Hemingway, Ernest. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway The First Forty-Nine Stories and the Play The Fifth Column. New York City: Random House, Inc., 1938 Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises.