A Clean Well-Lighted Place is among one of the many literary masterpieces of acclaimed writer, Ernest Hemingway. It is very characteristic of his writing style that contains deeper undertones than how they are presented. It suggests more complex meanings and perceptions about universal subjects like life and religion and may possibly be reflective of Hemingway’s life in particular.
This is a story about three characters who were in a cafe and have exchanged a few dialogues. The simplicity of how the story was written and it’s short length definitely stirs the emotions of the readers. It cultivates interest on the concealed meanings in the different exchanges and manner of the characters. It may seem somewhat vague and does not elaborate on the details making it all the more enticing as much as it is frustrating.
Take for example, details which concerns the old customer. Not much detail with regards to his act of committing suicide was included. Information on the reasons why he lost his wife was also omitted which might have been very useful in interpreting the man’s reasons for doing an act that would end his life. This deliberate attempt by the author to conceal some points in the story keeps the reader in question about the authorial intention behind this presentation.
In the analysis of the story’s writing style, one can assume that the authorial purpose in his work is to amplify a certain idea that will contribute to the fullness of the story’s theme. It aims to invite a sense of introspection that is important in understanding the concept of the story as well as looking within to futher realize the truthfulness of the story’s relevance when applied to real life.
Though the characters are only minimal, they are very much representative of the group that the author would like to emphasize. The old man as well as the older waiter represents the older generation and the young waiter is characteristic of the young generation. Both the waiters are having a conversation referring to the old man that is their customer.
They are both referring to something that everyone will have to undergo — old age. Their different views and thoughts about the old man is different and contrasting, like the idea that the old waiter presented. He says that a wife would do the old man good which the younger waiter disagrees to. The old waiter also shows compassion and patience to the old man and even arguing with the young waiter about letting the old man extend.
The young waiter reacts as would young persons usually do, be irritable and make rude remarks about the old man which they do not realize will be an eventuality for them in the future. The older waiter on the other hand, probably realizing that he is aged as well, exhibits a more emphatic manner when it comes to the old man. As the story develops, the characters also develop in a sense that contributes to the theme of the story.
The old waiter soon evolves into a character very similar to the old man. The turning point of his character was when he said the following lines, “Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the café.”
This act of generosity simply shows that he can relate to all those who need refuge during the night and those who need a clean and well-lit place to stay. This is also evident in his act to mask his real problem by making himself believe that he has insomnia which a lot of people suffer from. He intends to make it seem that he is suffering from something that is common instead of suffering from a deeper ailment of the heart and the emotions.