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Analysis: A Clean, Well-lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway

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Introduction

ANALYSIS: A CLEAN, WELL-LIGHTED PLACE "A Clean, Well-lighted Place" by Ernest Hemingway revolves around the difference between a clean, bright cafe and a dark, not-so-clean, bar as a place for lonely men to spend the long, sleepless nights. Two waiters talk about the elderly deaf man who frequents the caf� regularly. The old man gets quietly drunk each night; just last week he attempted suicide but was rescued by his niece. Tonight he tries to pass the night in a clean, well-lighted place. The young waiter, impatient, to get home to his wife, does not comprehend the importance of this place to this old man's survival. The older waiter, who does understand, walks into the night himself, unable to find his own clean, well-lighted place in which to pass a lonely and sleepless night. Though the story only has three main characters, their characteristics are helpful in building up the theme of the story. The first character mentioned is the elderly deaf man. Through most parts of the story, he is the main subject of discussion of two waiters in the caf�. It seems the man drinks at the caf� every night, alone, to pass the time in a clean, well-lighted environment. ...read more.

Middle

Another image used in the story is the old man's deafness. His deafness is a symbolism of his separation from the rest of the world. It is in the caf� that he feels less alienated from the rest of the world because of the peaceful and quiet atmosphere the caf� gives in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the streets during morning. Another tool used by Hemingway is the image of Nothing. The old man and the old waiter wanted to escape from this nothingness that they felt; which is an unending emptiness without comfort or companion of man or God. They wanted to escape from the dark truth, that life is without truth or meaning. That's why they sought refuge in clean and well-lighted places to escape from the loneliness of their old age and to seek companion among people and meaning to their lives. The last image used is the irony of their desperate situation. Even if both the old men wanted to escape from the darkness and hopelessness they felt, they were constantly plagued by their insomnia. Even if the deaf man wanted to end his life, loneliness, darkness and segregation from the world, his suicide attempt was foiled by his niece. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the beginning of the story, the description given to him was that of a lifeless person. It is similar to the story "A Clean and Well-lighted Place" through its similar theme of alienation. In the story Grief, Iona is alienated from the people in the city because of his work. On the other hand, the old deaf man from the caf� was alienated from the people through his deafness. In the story Grief, Iona tries to "make contact" with the people by telling them of his son's death, but the indifferent people simply ignored him. In Hemingway's story, the old man tried to seek companion and purpose of his life inside the caf�, yet he was shunned by the young waiter. This story is filled with images of despair. The contrasts between light and dark, youth and age are harsh and well defined. The reader leaves the story with a feeling that there is no escape from the doldrums of the winter years of life. It is a reminder to all of us that we mustn't lose our faith in God because it is only through God that we may escape the feeling of nothingness and find the genuine clear and well-lighted place in our lives. ...read more.

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