A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Essay

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Essay

Length: 1032 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Ernest Hemingway captures the essence and origins of nihilistic thought in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”, written in a time of religious and moral confusion shortly after The Great War. The ideas expressed in this short story represent the post World War 1 thinking of Hemingway, and the notoriously nihilistic Lost Generation in Paris, which was greatly influenced by the many traumas of war. Learning from his unnerving experiences in battle, Hemingway enforces the idea that all humans will inevitably fade into eternal nothingness and everything valued by humans is worthless. He develops this idea by creating a brilliant mockery of two coveted religious documents, revealing authority figures as typical, despicable, human beings, and reducing life into the most raw, simplistic, and frightening reality imaginable. He states that all humans will naturally die alone and literally be “in despair” about “nothing” (494), and that people will either seek a “calm and pleasant cafe” (496), or a self-inflicted death simply to escape despair. Undoubtedly, Hemingway destroys any existence of a higher meaning because, in reality “[life is] all a nothing, and a man [is] nothing too” (496). By viewing the actions of three different generations, Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” elaborates on the idea that life is not continual enlightenment and growth, but gradual despair, and an inevitable death into “nada” (497).

The youthful and confident waiter, representing the youngest of the three male generations, is the only apparent spec of existentialist thought in the story. However, this young man is simply an unconcerned person due to his age; he is not in despair because the end of his existence is not breathing down his neck at thi...


... middle of paper ...


..., Well-Lighted Place”, represent the opinions and views of one typical person, in one ordinary life. The theme of a world of nothingness is overwhelming to the human brain, and almost inconceivable, and everything we do in this life is simply designed to help us take our mind off of death; suicide is the ultimate escape from “despair” over “nothing” (494). Hemingway’s brilliant transitions in time explain how life eventually grows worse with age, and humans will succumb to suicide, drunkenness, or something comforting and safe, much like a clean, well-lighted cafe. Further, Hemingway has shown the world that man has created many bogus ways to cope with the insurmountable fear of nothingness, namely religion. People can try to kid their selves into feeling soulful, genuine, or meaningful, but there is no need to “fear for [the human] soul”, as it is non-existent.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Ernest Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Essay

- Every piece of published work in literature is open to interpretation, and every person is entitled to have opinions, assumptions, and viewpoint. In a story shorter than 1,500 words, Ernest Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place has garnered serious debate and criticism. Written and published in 1933, Hemingway’s story containing a theme about nothing in several contexts has definitely given many critics something to talk about, but not about the usual theme, irony, or symbolism. The first 25 years after publishing the story were quiet, but a storm was brewing....   [tags: a clean well lighted place, hemingway]

Good Essays
971 words (2.8 pages)

A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essay

- A Clean Well-Lighted Place Today in class we talked about plot in relation to "A & P" by John Updike. I had always thought of plot as just being the sequence of events, but after our reading assignment I realize that there is much more to it. I’d never thought of looking for plot in things like patterns. My reaction to "A & P" is mixed because I disagree with the main character being a hero (as Updike intended). While reading the story I thought that the girls who came into the store were merely looking for attention....   [tags: A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essays]

Free Essays
7904 words (22.6 pages)

A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essay

- A Clean Well-Lighted Place A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway looks at age from the viewpoint of an inexperienced and experienced individual, with the aid of an old man to emphasize the difference between the two. This story takes place late one night in a caf. The caf is clean, pleasant, and well lighted, which brings some kind of comfort to the atmosphere. Here in the caf sits a deaf, lonely, older man, who although is deaf can feel the difference that the night brings to the caf, a younger waiter, who believes people stay around the caf to make his life miserable, and a waiter who is a bit older and seems to understand that this place, the caf, is comforting....   [tags: A Clean Well Lighted Place Ernest Hemingway]

Good Essays
1675 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on A Rose for Emily and A Clean Well Lighted Place

- A Rose for Emily vs A Clean Well Lighted Place A Rose For Emily is a story of a southern women and the secret she has kept for 40 years. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place takes place in a café in a Spanish country. There are three characters in this story, two which are waiters, and an old drunk man. This story is very mysterious just as A Rose for Emily. Both stories are told in an omniscient point of view. A Rose for Emily begins off telling us that Miss Emily has now died and people have come to her funeral....   [tags: A Clean Well Lighted Place]

Good Essays
495 words (1.4 pages)

Essay on Yearning for Peace in Hemingway's A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

- Yearning for Peace in Hemingway's A Clean, Well-Lighted Place          While Hemingway's short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is usually interpreted as an intensely poetic description of despair, it can with equal validity be seen instead as mankind's never ending yearning to find spiritual peace. Hemingway's short story displayed this emotional journey in many different ways. First, the title itself is a symbol for man's desire to find a state of tranquillity, safety, and comfort. Hemingway also showed this in the story's setting, which was used as a symbol for a sense of order, for it was late, the cafe was empty, and the men there were at ease....   [tags: A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essays]

Good Essays
1191 words (3.4 pages)

Symbols and Symbolism in A Clean Well-Lighted Place, By Hemingway Essay

- Symbolism in A Clean Well-Lighted Place   Symbolism, may be defined as a non-superficial representation of an idea or belief that goes beyond what is "seen."  Earnest Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" uses symbolism to help convey the theme of Nihilism, the philosophy that there is nothing heavenly to believe in.  It discusses that there is no supernatural reason or explanation of how the world is today.  Three symbols: the soldier, the café, and the shadows of the leaves, found in Hemingway's short story clearly displays this Nihilistic theme....   [tags: A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essays]

Good Essays
718 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on The Powerful Images of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, By Hemingway

- The Powerful Images of Hemingway's A Clean, Well-Lighted Place The main focus of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is on the pain of old age suffered by a man that we meet in a cafe late one night. Hemingway contrasts light and dark to show the difference between this man and the young people around him, and uses his deafness as an image of his separation from the rest of the world. Near the end of the story, the author shows us the desperate emptiness of a life near finished without the fruit of its' labor, and the aggravation of the old man's restless mind that cannot find peace....   [tags: A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essays]

Free Essays
1043 words (3 pages)

Reader Response to A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, By Hemingway Essay

- Reader Response to A Clean, Well-Lighted Place In 1933, Ernest Hemmingway wrote A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. It's a story of two waiters working late one night in a cafe. Their last customer, a lonely old man getting drunk, is their last customer. The younger waiter wishes the customer would leave while the other waiter is indifferent because he isn't in so much of a hurry. I had a definite, differentiated response to this piece of literature because in my occupation I can relate to both cafe workers....   [tags: A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essays]

Free Essays
1127 words (3.2 pages)

Analysis of A Clean Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway Essay examples

- Ernest Hemingway's short story, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," first published in 1933, is written in his characteristic terse style. It is the story of two waiters having a conversation in a café, just before closing up and going home for the night. They cannot leave because they still have a customer. One is anxious to get home to his wife, while the other sympathizes with the old man sitting at the table. Without realizing it, they are discussing the meaning of life. I believe that the story takes place during WWI in Spain....   [tags: A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essays]

Good Essays
743 words (2.1 pages)

Description, Visual and Auditory Clues, and Imagery in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, By Hemingway

- Description, Visual and Auditory Clues, and Imagery in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place "Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the café (251)." The waiter who speaks these words, in a Clean Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway, realizes that his café is more than just a place to eat and drink. The main character of this story is an elderly, deaf man who spends every evening at the same café until it closes. Setting is used to help the reader understand the old man's loneliness and the comfort he receives from the café....   [tags: A Clean Well-Lighted Place Essays]

Free Essays
504 words (1.4 pages)