A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Essay

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Essay

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Life sucks, does it not? Life is nothing and everything in life is meaningless. Perhaps there are a few things that can distract the mind and guard from the inadequacies of life, but in the end all fades away. Nothing lasts forever. While all the somethings are dying and fading, nothing is still there. Sure, one can search for meaning and think happy thoughts, but throughout the struggle everyone is alone and slowly spiraling down the path to despair. In “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” Hemingway uses the concept of nada, characterization, and the setting to emphasize the idea of human life being full of nothing.
To understand the story, one must understand that nothing is actually something (Benson 24). Hemingway substitutes the word nada, a Spanish translation for nothing, which is one-word description for both a lack of meaning and for all the irrational forces that infringe upon the human self (Hoffman 31). Some live in Nada and never know it but eventually some reach a dreadful realization and they fear that “it was all a nothing and a man was nothing too” (Hemingway 3). Everything is nothing and nothing is everything as this life holds no true meaning for mankind to comprehend.
Yet still there are men who realize Nada and become sleepless in their unceasing search for meaning (Warren 20), although “it is probably only insomnia; many must have it” (Hemingway 4). These men create a dilemma in which they wish for meaning but live in a world of spiritual emptiness (Bache 22). Yet if there be meaning to discover, these men can find it, for only through the awareness of nothing or non-meaning can meaning be created (Benson 25). To find something, man must confront and realize the presence of nothing, but such a rea...


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...way 3) for the place to give hope for meaning and provide a refuge for when loneliness is overbearing. Thus by maintaining a sense of cleanliness and order, the heroes of life achieve dignity, the dignity that keeps them alive (Warren 21).
Life sucks, does it not? The nothingness of everything is almost too much to bear. Nothing one does can save oneself. All is hopeless and everyone must reach a bitter end. All friendship is feigning; most loving mere folly and loneliness shall consume everything. However, there is a way to escape, a pathway to salvation. By acting with perhaps unrecognized courage, serving each other, bringing the world to full flower, and thereby helping in the creation of things more wonderful and more unimagined than ever before, life can have meaning and purpose. That meaning can be found late at night in a clean, well-lighted place.

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