Theme: a Clean, Well-Lighted Place

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Theme: A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Sadness, frustration, or discontent, however it’s put, there is an obvious difference with the characters in, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway, and their ideas of mortality and old age. The short story shows the concept of “nothingness,” displayed through a very depressing view on life. This suggesting that all people, even those who are happy and content, will eventually end up lonely, drunk, or unhappy. By allowing a reader to view this from three diverse perspectives, Hemingway is able to render how someone’s attitude of their own life can go from one extreme to another. Allowing suicide as a final option to surface for some.

The story is told from a total omniscience narrator, allowing the reader to gain better knowledge of the three main characters; the two waiters who work at the café, and the deaf old man who enjoys looking out upon the empty street, as well as their lives outside of the café. “In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference” (152 Hemingway). This quote comes from the second line of the story, creating a sense of theme on the idea of “nothingness”. The dust from the daytime pedestrians has settled. The dew from the late night has appeared, and here he sits in the trees shadow, sipping on his Brandy. For a lonely, old man, this clean, well-lighted café is a chance to escape the darkness himself. He continues to drink Brandy, hoping that sleep will come soon, allowing him a momentary get away from the empty and silent despair that has already caused him to attempt suicide once.

The views in regard to the old man vary significantly between the waiters. Just because the old man is financially stable, the younger waiter believes that he should have nothing to despair. For the young waiter money and material objects are everything, so he views him...
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