preview

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Powerful Essays
In a letter to his family Ernest Hemingway writes “How much better to die in all the happy period of undisillusioned youth, to go out in a blaze of light, than to have your body worn out and old and illusions shattered.” In the short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”, writer Ernest Hemingway examines the various perceptions of death and the world as a whole through the three main characters. In “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” we see how the perceptions of the other characters relate to the older waiter’s views on the world, and how that view evolves throughout the story. The story begins “It was late and every one had left the cafe except a deaf old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light.” This is the first time the reader see’s the contrast of light and dark and this is a reoccurring symbol that will be discussed later in the paper. The conversation between the waiters begins when one of them (unspecified which one) brings up the failed suicide attempt by the old man sitting in the café. For the first half of their dialogue the reader is not sure which of the waiters is speaking, which Hemingway does so the reader has to look close at the text to try and infer who is speaking each line. The uncertainty about who is speaking completely changes the dynamic of the story and that is what seems to be Hemingway’s intention. It is not until later that it becomes clear that it is the older waiter who knows about the attempted suicide and begins the conversation. Their conversation was very rapid but the reader is able to get their first insight into the central theme of the story. When the older waiter is asked what the old man was in despair about he responds "Nothing” since the old man has... ... middle of paper ... ... Bennett, Warren. "Character, Irony, and Resolution in 'A Clean Well-Lighted Place,'" American Literature Mar. 1970: 70-79. Rpt. in Short Stories for Students. Ed. Ira Mark Milne. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. . Hemingway, Ernest. "Clean Well-Lighted Place." Http://www.mrbauld.com/hemclean.html. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. Kerner, David. "The Ambiguity of 'A Clean Well-lighted Place,'" Studies In Short Fiction Fall 1992: 561-74. Rpt. in Short Stories for Students. Ed. Ira Mark Milne. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. .
Get Access