“A Clean Well-lighted Place”
In Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean Well-lighted Place” (reprinted in R.S. Gwynn, Fiction 2nd ed. [New York: Longman, 1998] 104), images of light are contrasted with images of darkness and shadow to symbolize the contrasting ideas of faith and doubt. These images of opposites are the theme of the story, and throughout the stories length they reinforce its meaning.
Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean Well-lighted Place” is a story based around a small café, with its two waiters, its single patron, and the events that take place just prior to its closing and soon thereafter. The patron who keeps the two waiters until closing is an elderly deaf man who attempted to commit suicide the week before. The old man’s attempt to kill himself was thwarted by his niece, who is his caretaker assumedly since his wife either died or left him and he turned to the bottle for support.
In the story, the idea of doubt is perceived as shadow and is seen throughout the entire story “…The tables were all empty except where the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that move slightly in the wind”(104). This perhaps depicts the doubt that the old man has and by placing himself in the sh
The contrasting views of light and dark, faith and doubt, and happiness and despair not only reinforce the theme of opposites they are depicted by the main characters with the younger more able waiter being the light and older waiter and the deaf man being the darkness and loneliness that fill their lives. His apparent trust in his wife not to cheat and his rant on his confidence, to me shows his unrivaled faith. The old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he could feel the difference"(104). ------------------------------------------------------------------------Bibliography. There are vast contrasting opinions among the waiters as well,"" "We are of two different kinds," the older waiter said". It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. adow he is expressing this, or possibly that he is trying to remove himself from the rest of the world, since his attempt at suicide failed. His feelings of being lost in an eternal loop of nothing seems to drive him near mad by his continuous use of nothing, as if to say his life is nothing. His deafness is also a reinforcement of the constant shadow that the old man constantly lives in which is removing him from the constant turmoil of everyday life". The older waiter"tms statement that, "I am one of those who" need a light for the night"(107) depicts the near desperation of his choice to keep the cafe open, it is not only the old man that needs the company.