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

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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. Hemmingway's somber tale is about conquering late night loneliness in a bright cafe. The customer drinking brandy suffers from it and so does the older waiter. However, the younger waiter cannot understand loneliness because he probably hasn't been very lonely in his life. He mentions a couple times throughout the story that he wished to be able to go home to his wife, yet the old man and old waiter have no wives to go home to like he does. This story have a deeper meaning to me because I often am in a similar situation at work. For a little over three years, I've been a weekend bartender at an American Legion Club. I almost always work the entire weekends, open to close, which proves to be a tortorous schedule at times. Like the cafe in Hemmingway's tale, the Legion is a civilized place, often well lit, and quieter than most clubs. Because members have to either have served in the military during wartime or have a relative that did, the patronage is often older and more respectful than an average barroom. And because most members are older, they may not have a family to go home to, or they may be just a little more dismal because their lives have been longer and harder than most. In many ways, they are very much like the old man sipping brandy while hiding in the shadows of the leaves in Hemmingway's cafe. And in many ways, I am like the young waiter, anxious to leave. The young waiter seems selfish and inconsiderate of anyone else. In the beginning of the story, he's confused why the old man tried to kill himself. "He has plenty of money," he says, as if that's the only thing anyone needs for happiness. When the old man orders another drink, the younger waiter warns him that he'll get drunk, as if to waver his own responsibility rather than to warn the old man for his sake.

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