Analysis: “a Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

Topics: Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, Mary Welsh Hemingway Pages: 2 (536 words) Published: October 2, 2011
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

In Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” two un-named waiters, one young and one older, have conflicting attitudes and views towards an old drunk customer.
First, the older waiter can relate more to the old man than the younger waiter. For example, “I am of those who like to stay late at the café.” (145). The older waiter said this because he felt a desire not for sleep, but for the light in place of night. Neither the old drunk nor the older waiter wanted to leave by choice, but because of the younger waiter’s hurried actions, he single handily caused the café to close earlier before 3am.

Next, we see that the older waiter defends the old drunk’s integrity when the younger waiter said, “I wouldn’t want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing.” (144). In addition, the more experienced waiter exclaimed, “Not always. This old man is clean. He drinks without spilling. Even now, drunk. Look at him.” (144). Because of the older waiter’s attitude towards the old man, we know that he too must be of an age to be able to identify his actual appearance and body language

Finally, the older waiter begins to view and understand exactly the way the old man does, but does not cognitively think of it. To illustrate, “It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order.” (146). ~ “After all, he said to himself, it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it.” (146). To be able to act in a similar pessimistic thinking, he too began to have the same attitudes and views of the old drunk.

On the contrary, the younger waiter felt no empathy for the old drunk as the older waiter did. An instance of this is when the hurried waiter declares, “You should have killed yourself last week.” (143). To be able to have the cojones to execute such as vulgar statement in front of him: the customer, proves his...
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