A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Characters and Symbolisms in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"

Ernest Hemingway's Short story "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" is about two cafe waiters analyzing an old man's behavior. Moreover, one of the waiters identifies himself with the old man. The theme depicts the elderly's mentality that youth means confidence and a life without loneliness. The story uses elements such as characters and symbolism. There are three main characters in the story and all of them are static. One of the characters is a young waiter with an unknown age. This young man wants to go home while working, but the old man's presence does not let him: "I'm sleepy now. I never get into bed before three o'clock. He should have killed himself last week" (142). Furthermore, the young waiter is very egocentric and selfish, because all he hopes is the departure of the old man, so that he can go to bed before three o'clock. Also, the young waiter does not like old people: "I wouldn't want to be old. An old man is a nasty thing." (143). The author also states that the young waiter is married: "He's lonely. I'm not lonely. I have a wife waiting for me" (143).

There is also an older waiter who is more patient than the younger one. These waiter understands the old man because he does not have a partner waiting for him at home. In addition, he loves staying late in the cafe because it is a peaceful unlike the bar. The older waiter believes he has insomnia, but it is probably an excuse because he does not want to go home and do any activity: "After all, he said to himself, it is probably insomnia. Many must have it" (144). The third main character is an old deaf man. He loves to spend time in the cafe at night. The old man does not have a wife; therefore, his niece takes care of him. As a result of his loneliness, he tried to commit suicide. Although he is rich, the old man is unhappy. There are many symbolisms in the story. For example, the cafe is a representation of a clean place with plenty illumination for older people. On the other hand, the ]
bar represents a place for young people. The bar has music and is not so clean. Furthermore, the age is another symbol. Youth means a controlled life: "You have youth, confidence, and a job, the older waiter said. You have everything" (143). Symbolically, the alcohol meant an escape for peoples problems. Hemingway had an alcoholic problem and he used this as an example of his personal life. Significantly, the story took place in a Hispanic place. Spanish places have many cafes and the pesetas are used in Spain: "The old man stood up, slowly counted the saucers, took a leather coin purse from his pocket and paid the drinks, leaving a half peseta tip"(143).

The theme in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is the way that old people think about youth. Old means loneliness, and young means happiness. In conclusion, many people think that youth means power, but the truth is that no matter if we are young or old we will still have the same or even better capacities than others.