“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway, a prominent American writer. It describes the night’s late hours when an old deaf man is sitting in a café while two waiters are waiting him to leave as they want to close the place and go home. The waiters discuss the old man’s attempt to commit suicide last week. While a young waiter curses the old customer for staying as he wants to go home to his wife, an older waiter is “reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe” (Hemingway 3).
tailored to your instructions
for only $13.00 $11.05/page
Finally, the old man goes away after the young waiter refused to give him one more glass of brandy. After closing the café, the older waiter continues “the conversation with himself” and goes to a bar for a drink (Hemingway 3). Later, he returns home though he cannot sleep in the night due to insomnia.
The main concept of the story is the contrast between death and life, age and youth, dark and light. In “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” the café symbolizes home, comfort, light, peace, and company, while the night means loneliness, death, and despair (Betsworth 62). The desire of the old man to stay in the café as long as possible is the symbol of life’s comfort and safety and the fear of death. However, he is sitting in the shadow of leaves and finally walks into the night.
Through this shadow, Hemingway expresses declining years and the inevitable end of life. The older waiter understands his old customer due to the resemblance of their age (Deepa 19). He has a fear of death as well and understands that other people may also be afraid of its darkness. That is why he does not want to close the café and tries to stay in the light for a longer time by visiting a bar after work.
Betsworth, Leon. “A Café is a Very Different Thing: Hemingway’s Café as Church and Home.” The Hemingway Review, vol. 39, no. 1, 2019, pp. 62-80.
Deepa, M. Muthu. “The Delineation of Despair Through the Old Man and the Old Waiter in A Clean Well-Lighted Place: Ernest Hemingway.” The Literary Herald, vol. 3, no. 6, 2018, pp. 17-20.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Creative Education, 1990. Web.
as little as 3 hours