1. In “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” compare the younger waiter and the older waiter in their attitudes toward the old man. Whose attitude do you take to be closer to that of the author? Even though Hemingway does not editorially state his own feelings, how does he make them clear to the reader.
2. Drawing from either “Barn Burning” or “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” identify which adjectives best describe the general tone of the story: calm, amused disinterested, scornful, marveling, excited, impassioned, peaceful. Explain why you think the adjectives (or others that you might use) best describe the short story and point to passages in the text that support your claim.
“He would lie in bed, and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it” is a quote from Ernest Hemingway, A Clean Well-Lighted Place. Ernest Hemingway’s short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is about the human condition and the search for meaning in a chaotic and uncertain world. According to Naimanova et al. (2021), the story follows the thoughts and observations of three characters: an old man who frequents a café late at night, the older waiter who serves him, and the younger waiter who is eager to leave and go home. Through their interactions and reflections, the story delves into themes of loneliness, isolation, and the search for solace in a world that can seem cold and indifferent (Naimanova et al.,2021). The café serves as a sanctuary for the old man and the older waiter, providing a clean and well-lighted place to escape the darkness and loneliness of their own lives. However, the younger waiter cannot find the same solace and instead finds the café a source of frustration. This paper discusses the comparison between the younger waiter and the older waiter in their attitudes toward the old man and the attitude closer to that of the author, how the author makes his feelings clear to the reader and which adjectives best describe the general tone of the story.
In Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” the younger and older waiters have different attitudes toward the old man who regularly visits the café where they work. According to Vitacolonna (2020), the younger waiter, impatient and eager to leave for the night, views the old man as a nuisance and a burden. He is eager to close the café and move on with his evening, and he is visibly annoyed when the old man lingers. On the other hand, the older waiter has a much more compassionate and understanding attitude toward the old man. He recognizes that the café serves as a sanctuary for the old man, where he can find solace and escape his loneliness. The older waiter takes the time to listen to the old man and ensure he is comfortable (Vitachlona,2020). The younger waiter represents the youth mindset, often characterized by impatience and a lack of empathy. He is in a hurry to move on with his life and doesn’t take the time to understand the old man’s struggles. On the other hand, the older waiter embodies the wisdom and empathy that come with age. He understands that the old man’s needs are essential and that the café serves a vital purpose in his life. Thus, the younger and older waiters have different attitudes toward the old man, and the older waiter’s attitude is closer to the authors.
The characterization of the waiters plays a significant role in conveying the author’s feelings. According to Paramitha et al. (2018), the older waiter, with his compassionate and understanding attitude towards the old man, represents the wisdom and empathy that come with age. He recognizes the old man’s need for a clean, well-lighted place to escape his loneliness and takes the time to listen to him and ensure he is comfortable. On the other hand, in his impatience to leave, the younger waiter dismisses the old man’s needs and wants. He views the old man as a nuisance and doesn’t take the time to understand his struggles. This contrast in attitudes reflects the theme of loneliness and the search for understanding in the story. Thus, the author uses characterization to portray his feelings.
The setting of the story also helps to convey the author’s feelings. A café is where the old man can find solace and escape the loneliness of his life. According to Paramitha et al. (2018), the café is described as a “clean, well-lighted place” that is open late, providing a refuge for the old man in the darkness of the night. The story’s setting reflects the theme of loneliness and the search for meaning in life. Thus, the author uses the setting to convey his feelings.
In Ernest Hemingway’s short story, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, the general tone can best be described as calm. According to Lena (2021), the setting of the story, a café that is “well-lighted” and “clean,” immediately evokes a sense of calm and order. The older waiter, described as “an old man himself,” can find solace in the café and the light it provides. He even states, “It was not the light he minded; it was the being alone.” The café serves as a sanctuary for him, where he can escape the darkness and loneliness of his own life. Lena (2021) also states that the conversation between the older and younger waiter contributes to the calm tone. Though they have different perspectives on the old man and the café, their conversation is not heated or argumentative. They speak matter-of-factly, calmly discussing the old man’s habits and their own lives. Even when the younger waiter expresses his frustration with the old man’s refusal to leave, he does not raise his voice or become angry. Thus, the adjective that best describes the story’s tone is calm.
In conclusion, Ernest Hemingway’s short story, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, is a powerful and thought-provoking work of literature that explores the human condition and the search for meaning in a chaotic and uncertain world. The story presents a stark contrast between the attitudes of the younger and older waiters toward the old man. The attitude of the older waiter is closer to that of the author. The younger waiter is impatient and dismissive of the old man’s needs, while the older waiter is compassionate and understanding. Even though Hemingway does not editorially state his own feelings, he makes them clear to the reader through characterization and setting. The waiters’ characterization and the stories’ setting reflect the theme of loneliness and the search for meaning in life. The story serves as a commentary on the importance of empathy and understanding in our interactions. It reminds us that everyone has their struggles and that it is essential to take the time to understand and support those around us.
Lena, A. (2021). A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.
Naimanova, C., & Nurzat, I. K. (2021). Discourse analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s clean, well-lighted place. Interstudia (Revista Centrului Interdisciplinar de Studiu al Formelor Discursive Contemporane Interstud), (31), 101-109.
Simanjuntak, F. B., & Paramitha, D. A. (2018). An Analysis Cohesive Devices in Ernest Hemingway’s Short Story a Clean, Well-Lighted Place: Discourse Analysis.
Vitacolonna, L. (2020). Light and Nothing. An Analysis of A Clean Well-lighted Place.