Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Clean Well Lighted Place- Ernest Hemmingway Summary

â€Å"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place† Theme Analysis â€Å"I wouldn't want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing. † â€Å"Not always. This old man is clean. He drinks without spilling. Even now, drunk. Look at him. † -Ernest Hemmingway The story written by Ernest Hemmingway tells of a deaf old man who is in conversation with others at a cafe in the late night hours. The others in the story’s setting share a significant difference of age and opinion. It seems they depict their ages as stages of life. The story contains a lot of noteworthy symbols, behaviors and decisions that give us hints as to what the story is supposed to represent. Characters within the story are divided into four age groups, each having different characteristics and behaviors, however all waiting for their time to in which they face the inevitable and depart from the physical realm of living and into what follows. The old man is described as a deaf and depressed man who tried to take his life away a week prior the story’s setting. It is said in the story the man is financially stable and is a frequent guest in the cafe that is well lighted and clean, unlike bars or bodegas . The story also is able to show the old man’s loneliness, sadness, and distress. Also, the waiters are sharing significant differences between them; the young waiter is in a hurry to leave work and go home to his wife, he is unsympathetic for the old man, he shows a disliking to him, and displays disgust towards the idea of getting old and the old man himself. It seems as if the young bartender has no appreciation for the old man life and holds no regard to it. Unlike the older bartender who tries to understand the old man’s condition and is curious of his suicide attempt. The older waiter himself is not in the hurry, after leaving work he goes to the bar to get a drink and then finally falls asleep upon the dawn. The last characters, however not as significant but symbolic, are a young soldier and a young girl who are just strolling through the street at night. The story reveals interesting patterns based on the age of characters. The young couple strolling through the street at night gives us as an image of how young people are free and independent. Having their whole life in front of them, they explore their surroundings, strive for new experiences and enjoy life without taking a break to stop and think where it is leading. The young bartender is a described to be in the next level in life. He is probably one or perhaps two decades older then the soldier and young girl. Hemmingway gives us indirect hints of the characteristics in which a middle stage life in an adult would exhibit. The young bartender is in a hurry to leave the cafe and go home to his wife. â€Å"I wouldn’t want to be that old† he says during the dialog with another bartender. At some point, upset about having to serve the old man who prevents him to close up the cafe and go home he even says, â€Å"He should have killed himself last week. † It shows how this character is captivated by own needs and wants. It shows his life as having purpose or meaning, time for himself, and an outlook for the future of him and his family. Perhaps, at this point of life, Hemmingway tries to tell us that people are confined within their own personal spaces, living a fast-paced life and trying to accomplish as much as possible with no little regard towards others. They do not look towards life’s philosophy and take that approach very lightly carefully avoiding the truth behind life, because they’re simply disgusted by it. Conceivably, materialistic good is a measure of happiness at that age. The conversation between him and the other bartender reveals that in his mind despair over life couldn’t be caused by anything but money. When the older bartender tells him he’s got everything – confidence, youth and work, the young bartender simply replies â€Å"Come on. Stop talking nonsense. . . .† The older bartender, no doubt, is closer emotionally to the old man. He is far from being in a hurry. The sight of the financially well old man who frequently stays until the last possible drink at the cafe, and has tried to commit suicide week before captivates him. In a way he can relate to the old man, and views him as someone who, like him, has contributed his time and life by years. He questions the younger bartender about circumstances around his suicide attempt as well as trying to defend the old man from arrogant opinions expressed by his co-worker. Why didn’t you let him stay and drink? † the old waiter asks the younger bartender when he refused to serve the old man anymore even though the time for closing was an hour away. Then he concludes â€Å"I am of those who do not want to go to bed. [I am] with all those who need a light for the night . . . We are two of different kinds. † The author leaves it to our imagination to interpret what the bartender mea nt by the â€Å"light† for the night however the distinction between two characters that is linked to their age is significant. The older waiter is slowly getting through the stage of life preceding that of the old lonely man. The â€Å"light† might be a symbol for the hope or motivation for the life to continue. Younger characters of the story did not have a need for that hope as they had everything – confidence, youth, work and most importantly – the time. The old man is the most important figure in the story. Even though he is not part of conversation and does not say more than simple words, he is a symbol of the last stage of one’s life. Hemmingway shows that stage as depressing, a lonely time in one’s life. He shows the old man as having realized the meaningless of life, the old man’s need to move on. The suicide attempt was significant as well as the fact that the old man was deaf, because it shows the man’s loneliness, his need to be with others, and is desperate attempt to end the silence, he feels he is confined to his own lonely thoughts by being deaf and wants nothing more than to end the silence with death, because death or life means nothing to him. The story is constructed in a very enlightening way; by including the different age groups and the different opinions of life and its worth to others. It is interesting to see the contrasting views of the individuals as they journey through life and all its experiences. Take the epigraph above; it shows to vivid contrast between the old and the young bartender. The young bartender shows his disgust in getting old, and his avoidance of it, while the old bartender in his quote shares his appreciation for maturity and the life’s worth. It is something to take from this story that as we all live to understand life and its meaning with different views and opinions, we share one thing in common and that is the inevitable.

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