A Clean Well-lighted Place

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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The story A Clean Well-Lighted Place can be interpreted in many ways. Some people may think it's about loneliness and aging, and others may think it's just about a cafe compared to a regular bar. Either way, Hemingway does a very good at using description to illustrate the characters; he makes the readers realize what's going on in the story.

A Clean Well-Lighted Place involves three character which consist of a young waiter, an older waiter, and an old man. In the story, it seems like the young waiter is very impatient and judging. He shows no respect for the old man and kicks him out of the bar before closing. When the young waiter hears how the old man tried to kill himself, he made it a point to tell the man that he should've died. The young man is very selfish in his ways, and we can tells this by him trying to kick the old man out of the cafe just because he wants to get home before 3 AM.

This younger waiter is frustrated with the man; his youth and lack of maturity is really shown during the period where he kicks the man out of the bar and lies to him. The young man seems to be a very angry and irate person. He also seems to be impatient. The young waiter doesn't understand the importance the drinking plays to the old man and how important the cafe and leaving it open is to the older waiter.

The older waiter is a lot more considerate and understanding. Just like the old man, the older waiter is very lonely so he knows exactly how the old man feels. He commits to his job and to his customers because he doesn't have anything or anyone else.

The older waiter feels as if his cafe is special is reluctant to close it up in case someone needs to get a drink. He talks to himself at the end of the story as though he is his only friend. He's lonely, but happy doing what he does.

The old man is very lonely and depressed. Like many people presently do, he drinks to make himself feel like he has a purpose. Even though the man has plenty of money and a family, he stills feels very dispirited and downhearted about something. In the story it mentions the burdens he has had to face with losing his wife and his not being able to hear. The old man's failure of suicide only leads him back to the same old ways of life that's happening before.

The story can be about many different things. The old waiter compares the dark bars with the light of the nice cafe and that can describe the difference between life and death. Both the old man and the older waiter go to that cafe and stay there for hours because they are lonely, and the cafe makes their day and night worthwhile. In the end, the old dark bar represents the death that is in the future for them both.

Hemingway must of had a reason for writing this story. Even though we don't know the reason why he wrote it, it seems like a foreshadowing of what is life was going to be like in the end. Even though Hemingway was a successful author and was wealthy, he himself killed himself in the end, at the age of 61.