A Clean Well Lighted Place
“A Clean Well Lighted Place” takes place in a café where an old man has had too many drinks. The story deals with man’s coping mechanism to the lack of God that Hemmingway assumes. The characters remark soldiers walking in the streets, showing that the story takes place during wartime, exacerbating the Godless situation the characters live in. The characters in the café each present their reaction to the realization that there is no God, representing all of mankind’s own reaction to the same situation. The first response to the lack of God is to be miserable. When one waiter asks the other of the old man’s attempted suicide, the explanation is that “He was in despair” about “Nothing,” about the lack of God; the deaf old realized that there is “Nothing,” that there is no God (289). He understands that he was made with no meaning, and becomes disillusioned with life and consequently attempts suicide. However, Hemmingway wants us to understand that although a sad and undesirable situation, the old man’s reaction is within reason by showing how he’s “clean,” “drinks without spilling” (289). The old man thinks: if there is nor God, nor life after death, nor meaning to life, then why live? What can man hope for in this dire realization that on ends? Another position on the matter of a lack of God, is to not realize that there is no supreme being. The young waiter represents those who are too superficial to see that there is nothing there or those who just don’t see it. This man is impatient with his client as he only care about getting home to his wife. We know that he values his wife’s company very much more than the old man’s predicament, his suicide even! This man is too caught up in his own worldly issues, too superficial, to be concerned with a lack of God. Hemmingway shows us that this is not a reasonable position to take by making the character unlikable and dumb, his syntax even breaking down like “stupid people...
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