In Hemingway’s story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”, the story centers on three men in a café at a late hour who each have different views about the world. While the young waiter only wants to leave the café and return home to his wife, the older waiter and the old man desire to stay in the café as long as possible since they see it as a place of comfort and order in an otherwise chaotic and meaningless life. Although both the old waiter and the old man seem to believe that the world lacks meaning and purpose, they still continue to strive to find humanity and order in their lives, suggesting that they have not truly give up all hope. The old man, more than the other two men in the café, feels isolation and purposeless in his life. Physically, his deafness separates him from the rest of the world. He cannot participate in the conversation in the café and when the younger waiter rudely insults that he “should have killed [himself] last week” (Hemingway 153), he is completely oblivious to the hostility. The man’s wife is presumably deceased as the old waiter remarks that he once “had a wife too” (153), and he has no peers to converse with since his “neice looks after him” (153) now. Although he has “plenty of money”, material possessions are useless and devoid of meaning to a man who is so alone. The fact that he “last week he tried to commit suicide” (152) evidences that these factors of loneliness and isolation lead him to conclude that there is no purpose in life or order. His family is obviously religious, since they “cut him down” from the rope for “fear for his soul” (153), yet the old man commits suicide despite the fact that he would be damning his own soul in the process. This action demonstrates that the man has come to the conclusion that committing suicide is acceptable since he believes that there is no god or hell that he can be sent to as punishment for suicide. Similarly, the older waiter is alone and cannot seem to find a meaning or...
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