Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-lighted place" analysis

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CLEAN, WELL-LIGHTED PLACE                                                                1

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Sergio Leon

The Art Institute of Tampa

December 11, 2012

ENG 2203- English Literature and Writing

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In Hemingway’s A Clean, Well Lighted Place, the interaction between the older waiter and the younger waiter proves that with age and life experience, people have a greater understanding of others.  In  A Clean, Well Lighted Place, symbolism and sympathy play a role in helping understand the characters. I was drawn to this work because of the connection between the older waiter and the old man.  This is evident in the dialogue between the waiters, the treatment of the old man by the waiters, and the older waiter’s thoughts and actions after the old man leaves the café.

The story takes place in a café in Spain, possible in the 1930’s.  This story was published in 1933 and I believe that the author wrote it with his present time in mind.  The first character is the old man, who is deaf, yet he enjoys the stillness of the night.  For this reason, he is sitting at an outdoor table, in the shadow of a tree.  The old man drinking alone, and it’s near closing time at the café.  There are two waiters working in the café, an older one and a younger one.  From experience, the waiters know that if the old man drinks too much, he is likely to leave without paying his tab.  The younger waiter seems to be in a rush to get home to his wife while the older waiter doesn’t seem to be in any rush.  “Last week he tried to commit suicide,” (Hemingway, 2010) one waiter said.  This was said to be because he was in despair.  “What about?” asks the younger waiter.  “Nothing,” Replies the older waiter.  This is the first instance to a unique word choice from the author.  This word comes up again later on in the story.  In his passiveness, the older waiter begins to show an understanding of the why the man is drinking alone, late at night.  The two waiters talk back and forth until the old man taps his saucer to get their attention.  What happens next will illustrate how the treatment of the old man by the younger waiter shows the lack of respect from youth.

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A CLEAN, WELL-LIGHTED PLACE                                                        3

“What do you want,” asks the younger waiter.  “Another brandy,” replies the old man.  “You’ll be drunk,” scoffs the younger waiter at the old man.  Reluctantly, the younger waiter serves the old man and he tells him “You should have killed yourself last week.”  This clearly shows that the younger waiter has judged the old man without having consideration as to why the old man is out, alone, drinking.   The two waiters continue to discuss the incident of the old man’s suicide attempt while waiting on the old man to finish.  The older waiter says ...

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