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“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” as Depiction of Meaningless Life
In the brief story, charactferization via the words of the older waiter is utilized to reveal traits of the old man and subsequently help Hemingway’s stance on the value of life. Taking spot in a café late at evening, an older man drinks to be drunk. He’s a regular consumer of the establishment, and the two waiters, one particular old and one young, often muse on the old man, his actions, and his life. They clarify that he tried to commit suicide final week because “he was in despair” about “nothing” (Hemingway 1). This introduces the reader to Hemingway’s oft-utilized notion of nada, or nothingness. It’s evident that the man is lonely and feels nothing at all due to the fact of his suicide try. He has practically nothing in his life and feels worthless. He has no wife, no life, and save for the café, nowhere to reside out the rest of his otherwise empty life. In other words, he a lost man and someone who has practically nothing to reside for. He’s a man who will probably once more try suicide.
Furthering the characterization argument, the characterization of the old man by way of the older waiter’s inner thoughts additional advance the notion that life is meaningless. The older waiter says that a “wife would be no excellent to him now” to curb his loneliness, indicating that he infinitely feels that he is nothing and is in deep hole of depression that he cannot crawl out of (Hemingway 1). Near the finish of the story when the younger waiter tells the old man that he will serve him no much more drinks and the older waiter is in the bar himself cleaning up, he recites the “Our Father” prayer, replacing really a handful of words with nada, which once more signifies nothingness. Not only does this eschew the thought of religion as meaningless and nothing at all, it also reinforces the thought that life itself has no which means. In addition, by way of the bit of characterization we get for the older waiter, we discover that is in a comparable predicament as the old man. Soon after he closes up the café, the older waiter stops for a drink at a bodega simply because he, like the older man, is reluctant to return to the nothingness that awaits him in the dark just outdoors the protected haven that is the bodega. Mentioned the narrator: “He [the older waiter] would lie in the bed and ultimately, with daylight, he would go to sleep” (Hemingway two). It’s only the light that tends to make him overlook the nada, or nothingness.
Not only does the old man’s suicide try serve as a form of indirect characterization for the old man, but it also provides him to seek refuge in the café. This is revealed via light and dark imagery. Outside of the secure haven that is the café, there is practically nothing but darkness, “shadows” and “empty tables” (Hemingway 1). Inside the café, however, factors are diverse. It is described in the title as “clean” and “well-[lit].” The man survived his suicide try and stays in the café to stave off his eventual return to nada, or nothingness. He realizes the futility of life and the world itself. The striking juxtaposition of the dark of the outside and the light of the inside makes it clear that it’s only the light of the café that keeps the man from pondering about the nothingness of the world and only the light of the café that stops him from trying to commit suicide. Effectively, the café is the man’s secure haven from his perceived evil and darkness of the planet.
On the surface, the story of the old man in “A Clean, Nicely-Lighted Place” is in and of itself absolutely nothing. Basically, it details an old, deaf man who enters the eponymous café each evening to drink himself to a stupor and wash away the nothingness and the depression of his life and the two waiters who muse over his life and his actions. On a deeper level, even though, the story, with the aid of characterization and light and dark imagery, makes a profoundly cynical and depressing statement about life: it is meaningless, tying this back to Hemingway’s concept of nada, nothingness and illuminating the work’s theme. That is, life is meaningless and has no worth. Without Hemingway’s masterful use of characterization and light and dark imagery, the story wouldn’t be crucial.
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