A Simple Story of Imagery and Irony

Topics: Light, Irony, Fiction Pages: 3 (850 words) Published: September 23, 2007
Simple Story of Imagery and Irony

"A Clean, Well Lighted Place", is a story about three men that come across one another one night in a bar. Hemingway uses a minimalistic style with symbolic imagery and verbal irony to reveal a story of three men with three views of life and despair.

"Hemingway's style is famous for its simplicity-short common words, short sentences-and is said to be realistic and naturalistic" (Berryman 270). What stands out about "A Clean, Well Lighted Place" is its minimalism. It uses the minimal amount of words, sentences, and dialogue to create a story. Although the story is said to have no definite plot, it does convey a tale of three nameless characters that take part in a nocturnal scene in Spain. The two waiters talk, the old man drinks and they go home. The descriptions of the characters are very flat. Two of the men are only described as waiters and the customer is described as just an old blind man, and yet that is all that is need for the reader to paint a visual picture of the scenes in this story. As far as realism, this story could not connect more on a realistic level than what is expressed in this story. The scene in this story can be seen on a day to day bias throughout life. The characters my not be the same but the overall ambiance can be found. Symbolic imagery is found throughout this tale of three gentlemen. Light provides the most striking image pattern. The cafe has an "electric light" that the older waiter eventually turns off. The older waiter is "with all those who need a light for the night." The cafe where he works is "well lighted"; it's "light is very good." In the bodega where he buys coffee "the light is very bright and pleasant." After going home he would be able to sleep "with daylight." Other images are less important but function in the same way. Liquor, the "giant killer" of other stories, is a weapon against the darkness, but it also impairs physical functioning, making the old man walk...

Cited: Benson, Jackson J. Critical Reviews of "A Clean, Well Lighted Place". Short Story Criticism 1 (1998) 236-238.
Berryman, John Critical Reviews of "A Clean, Well Lighted Place". Contemporary Literary Criticism 10 (1979) 270-271.
Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia "A Clean, Well Lighted Place" Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. New York: Pearson, 2005: 154-158.
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