A Clean Well Lighted Place: Symbolism Analysis

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Symbolism Analysis of a Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemmingway

A Clean, Well-Lighted place is a short story by American Author Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway uses his unique writing style to describe a story that starts off with a deaf man sitting in a dark café. The entire story unfolds in the small café with three dominant speaking characters. The old man is sitting in the bar and is a customer who is drinking, and the other two characters are a waiter and barman. The barman is substantially older than the waiter and unmarried with no family. The waiter is a younger man with a family and a youthful hurried life. The story begins with the older customer wanting a refill of his drink, and the younger bartender becomes irritated and wants to get home to his family being that it is so late. As the story plays out you begin to notice a relationship between the old bartender and the deaf man, being that they are both lonely and seek out their solace in bars indulging in late night drinking. It is disclosed to us that although the old man has money, he has still recently tried to commit suicide and is generally unhappy and lonely. The word “nothing “is repeated throughout the story linking the descriptive dark vs. light elements to feelings shared by both the old man and barman. Hemmingway uses a substantial amount of symbolism sprinkled every so delicately to help the reader sympathize and relate to the characters through element, empathy and feeling. The first sign of symbolism presents itself in the very first sentence of the story. “It was late and everyone had left the café except an old man who sat in the shadow of the leaves that the trees made against the electric light.” (p 167) This scene describes an aged man who is sitting in a well lit café, yet falls in the shadow of a tree illuminated by a fake light. This simple short sentence places a shadow over the old man eluding a sort of darkness that seems to plague his character. The second sentence...
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