A Clean Well Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway

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“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” was written in 1933, by Ernest Hemingway. The main characters in the story are two waiters, one old, one young and an older man who is their customer in the café on the evening the story takes place. There are three main elements of style portrayed in the short story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” The elements of imagery, symbolism and irony, are illustrated throughout the short story, in turn leading to the theme of despair.

Imagery is the first element shown when describing the café. (1st paragraph) The elements of light and dark come into play when talking about the “old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. 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.” (75) The depiction of these sentences helps the reader understand where the setting is taking place; it also shows how much light and dark play significant roles in the story. The old man is described again in the next paragraph as he, “sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that moved slightly in the wind,” which emphasizes the fact that it is late and he is in the shadows by himself. At this point in the story, the older waiter begins to understand the old man in the café and sympathizes with his need for a clean, well-lighted place. (5)

The next element of style as seen in the story is symbolism. Symbolism plays an important part in understanding “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” In paragraph 75 where the two waiters are saying goodnight to each other, the point of view shifts, and the symbolism becomes very clear to the reader. First, when the older waiter continues the conversation with himself after the younger waiter has left for the evening, he begins to show signs of despair in his own character. He proceeds to make a mockery of the...
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