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

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

Length: 1043 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
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. Throughout this story stark images of desperation show the old man's life at a point when he has realized the futility of life and finds himself the lonely object of scorn.

The most obvious image used by Hemingway in this story is that of the contrast between light and dark. The cafe is a "Clean, Well-Lighted Place". It is a refuge from the darkness of the night outside. Darkness is a symbol of fear and loneliness. The light symbolizes comfort and the company of others. There is hopelessness in the dark, while the light calms the nerves. Unfortunately for the old man, this light is an artificial one, and its peace is both temporary and incomplete.

"... the tables were empty except where the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that moved slightly in the wind."

Maybe the old man hides in the shadows of the leaves because he recognizes the shortcoming of his refuge. Perhaps he is drawn to the shadows so that the darkness of his own age will not be so visible as it would be in the full force of the electric light. His body is dark with the effects of illness. Even his ears bring him a sort of darkness as they hold out the sounds of the world.

The old man's deafness is also a powerful image used in the story. "...the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he could feel the difference." Deafness shuts the old man out from the rest of the world. In the day, everything must be a reminder to him of his disconnection from the world.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Powerful Images of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, By Hemingway." 13 Oct 2019

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Elie Wiesel’s Night and Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place Essay

- Elie Wiesel’s Night and Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place Many outsiders strive but fail to truly comprehend the haunting incident of World War II’s Holocaust. None but survivors and witnesses succeed to sense and live the timeless pain of the event which repossesses the core of human psyche. Elie Wiesel and Corrie Ten Boom are two of these survivors who, through their personal accounts, allow the reader to glimpse empathy within the soul and the heart. Elie Wiesel (1928- ), a journalist and Professor of Humanities at Boston University, is an author of 21 books....   [tags: Elie Wiesel Night Ten Boom The Hiding Place]

Research Papers
2850 words (8.1 pages)

Vivid Images of Character and Place in the Opening Chapter To Dickens' Great Expectations

- Vivid Images of Character and Place in the Opening Chapter To Dickens' Great Expectations The opening chapter to Great Expectations introduces Pip who is the main protagonist in the story. He is an orphan and lives with his sister Mrs Joe Gargery and her husband who is a blacksmith. The story is set in the graveyard in the time of the Industrial Revolution. In the opening chapter we also see Pip being introduced to a convict who is very poor but very rude to the child. The convict threatens Pip and warns him that if he does not get any food for him, he will be in serious trouble....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays]

Research Papers
1159 words (3.3 pages)

Images of Addiction Essay

- Images of Addiction 'Addiction', 'craving', 'dependence', 'enslavement', 'habit', 'obsession' these are some of the many ways of describing a persons need for something or someone. Addiction and the way it's presented is the main focus of two books, 'Junk' by Melvin Burgess a contempary novel written in 1996 and 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a short story from the Sherlock Holmes series written in 1892. I will be comparing the two similarly themed stories and discuss how they show images of addiction....   [tags: English Literature]

Free Essays
2354 words (6.7 pages)

The Images and Imagery of Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

- The Imagery of Macbeth        Who can contest the statement that William Shakespeare in the tragedy Macbeth very skillfully uses imagery to strengthen the theme and other aspects of the play. In this paper we explore the imagery in all its dimensions.   L.C. Knights in the essay "Macbeth" explains the supporting role which imagery plays in Macbeth's descent into darkness:   To listen to the witches, it is suggested, is like eating "the insane root, That takes the reason prisoner" (I.iii.84-5); for Macbeth, in the moment of temptation, "function," or intellectual activity, is "smother'd in surmise"; and everywhere the imagery of darkness suggests not only the absence or withdrawal of...   [tags: Macbeth essays]

Research Papers
3069 words (8.8 pages)

Images and Imagery in Macbeth Essay

- Imagery in Macbeth   The Bard of Avon considers imagery one of many elements in his tragedy Macbeth which give underpinning to the theme of the drama. The imagery might be said to be not a goal in itself but a means to an end. In Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy, Northrop Frye shows how the playwright uses imagery to reinforce the theme: This theme is at its clearest where we are most in sympathy with the nemesis. Thus at the end of Macbeth, after the proclamation "the time is free," and of promises to make reparations of Macbeth's tyranny "Which would be planted newly with the time," there will be a renewal not only of time but of the whole rhythm of nature symbolized by...   [tags: Macbeth essays]

Research Papers
3072 words (8.8 pages)

Essay on Macbeth's Images and Imagery

- Macbeth's Imagery       William Shakespeare in the tragedy Macbeth very skillfully uses imagery to support other aspects of the drama, especially the theme. In this essay let us examine the imagery, including literary critical comment.   Roger Warren comments in Shakespeare Survey 30 , regarding Trervor Nunn's direction of Macbeth at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1974-75, on opposing imagery used to support the opposing notions of purity and black magic:   Much of the approach and detail was carried over, particularly the clash between religious purity and black magic....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Free Essays
3062 words (8.7 pages)

Images and Imagery within Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

- The Reinforcing Imagery Within Macbeth         In the classic Shakespearean drama Macbeth it seems that every scene is laden with copious imagery - and for a purpose. Its intended purpose is to play a supporting role for more important facets of the play, for example theme.   In his book, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, H. S. Wilson interprets the imagery of Macbeth:   Macbeth is a play in which the poetic atmosphere is very important; so important, indeed, that some recent commentators give the impression that this atmosphere, as created by the imagery of the play, is its determining quality....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Free Essays
3072 words (8.8 pages)

Powerful Imagery and Themes in The Killer Angels Essay

-     In The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara fictionally illustrates the historical facts of the battle at Gettysburg. Shaara gives action and words to characters of another time, and then places these players on the stage of this great battle. Through the use of powerful biblical and non-biblical imagery and themes the epic nature of the battle at Gettysburg and its characters are enhanced. Such imagery and themes, combined with Shaara's fictionalization, help to contribute to why this single battle holds such monumental significance and influence upon the lives of Americans over a century removed from its occurrence....   [tags: Killer Angels Essays]

Research Papers
2334 words (6.7 pages)

Photojournalism: What is it? Essay example

- Truth Be Told Photojournalism is defined by as is a particular form of journalism that creates images in order to tell a news story. A partially unpredictable audience, in the sense that anyone can see it and respond, sees news articles; this opens a window of ethical issues that are involved in reporting images to newspapers and magazines. Awareness of the moral rights and wrongs of journalism helps society to better understand why certain details are censored for the public. A mutual understanding of what stories are ethically reportable is valuable for both the photographers and the publishers....   [tags: Images, Ethics, Story]

Research Papers
919 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Compare and contrast images of heroism in these two poems.

- Compare and contrast images of heroism in these two poems. Heroism is a trait that we seem to have no problem identifying, yet when asked to define what a hero is a myriad of answers emerge. This phenomenon is not unique to today’s society; the definition of a hero is something that is constantly under revision and debate. An example of this can be seen in two older pieces of English literature: Beowulf, written circa 750-900, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written circa 1375-1400. These stories both have a main character that possesses heroic qualities, many of which are very similar....   [tags: English Literature]

Research Papers
1417 words (4 pages)

Related Searches

The busy streets, the marketplace, the chatter in the cafes along the street, the animals, and the motor vehicles fill the town with noise all day long. The old man knows this and recognizes that he is completely cut off from the sounds that he probably had not thought much of as a young man. In this cafe so late at night he is not missing much. In fact, he might prefer to miss the conversation about him between the two waiters. The younger waiter is disgusted by the old man. He says, "I wouldn't want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing." The same thing may have been said by the old man when he was young. One might even conjecture that the old man chooses to be deaf rather than to face the nastiness of caducity and hear the words of disdain spoken by his juniors.

Another tool used by Hemingway in this story is the image of Nothing. Nothing is what the old man wants to escape. The older waiter, who sometimes acts as the voice of the old man's soul, describes his adversary:

"It was all nothing, and a man was nothing, too...Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it was nada y pues nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada nada be thy name thy kingdom nada they will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee..."

The Nothing is a relentless monotony, unbroken by joy or sorrow. It is unending emptiness without comfort or companionship of man or God. It is the senselessness of each heart-beat that is just like the last and refuses to give in to death. The old man's loneliness is empty. His days of retirement without useful work or purpose are empty. The emptiness of a life without progress of meaning is Nothing, and this Nothing afflicts the old man with a powerful grip. The only escape from this Nothing is blissful unconsciousness, permanent only in death.

The old man's death-wish is further played out through the metaphor of insomnia, an ailment which he apparently shares with the older waiter insomnia keeps the two awake through the hours of darkness, just as a tenacious life keeps the old man breathing when he would rather rest in his grave. In the second paragraph of the story, the older waiter informs the younger that their elderly customer had tried to commit suicide the week before. The old man is racked with despair - at his loneliness, the darkness of his life, his segregation from the world, and the Nothingness that permeates his existence. He wants rest, but it is withheld from him. Even when he tries to take his own life, his niece cuts him down from his noose. Peace is far from this man, and what little relief he may find is incomplete like the artificial light of the cafe. He tries to drown himself in whiskey, but that also fails to bring him rest. There is only left the hope that, as drunk as he is, he may pass out when he arrives home.

This story is filled with images of despair. The contrasts between light and dark, youth and age are harsh and well defined. The reader leaves the story with a feeling that there is no escape from the doldrums of the winter years of life. Perhaps it is Hemingway's own terror of old age and infirmity that he is trying to communicate to the reader.

Works Cited:

Hemingway, Ernest. "A Clean, Well Lighted Place." Literature for Composition. 4th ed. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, New York: HarperCollins 1996. 1169-1173.

Return to