A Clean Well-Lighted Place Setting Analysis

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In Earnest Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, the setting is integral to the characters and the atmosphere of the story. The story begins late at night at a clean, well-lighted café. As the scene is described and as the waiters discuss their thoughts about an old man who has lingered there, we come to see how the setting is reflecting the characters, their motivations, and feelings. Though the setting is largely reflective of the character’s personalities, it also aids in forming their feelings a bit. That is to say, that because of the character’s natures, they are at once seeking out a setting which reflects and supports themselves; yet by this fact, they also seeking a setting that will help influence or counteract their feelings. …show more content…
His character is young, confident, and unsympathetic towards the old man. He wishes the old man would leave so that he can go home. He eventually refuses to pour the old man another drink and quickly leaves for home as soon as the old man departs. From his comments, we also learn that he doesn’t want to be an old man himself, and he doesn’t understand why the old man would be suicidal if he has money. He is unaware that there was a deeper truth in the suggestion that the reason the old man was in despair was due to nothing. Although, he does realize the old man is probably lonely, unlike himself, but he doesn’t think that the companionship of having a wife would help the old man. The character of the younger waiter reflects the timing of the setting and contributes to the importance of time or lateness in the story. He is young and has a lot of time ahead of him, as compared to the old man and older waiter who are in a later stage of life. It is very late at night and because of this, he wants to go home to another setting that better reflects his desires and character. He feels that his time is more important or meaningful and we learn this from his suggestion that an hour is more to him than it is to the old man. The setting may help to form the younger waiter’s attitude, though. Again, it is late and he is at work. This conflicts with his desires which may be making him act out of …show more content…
His sympathies for the old man makes him question the younger waiter’s hurriedness. He speaks and contemplates as though he could easily see himself in the old man’s position and that he himself hopes or wishes that someone would keep café’s like this one open late for people in need of such a refuge, like himself. He surmises and insinuates that the café is much preferable to bodegas (which are open all night) because one can sit comfortably with dignity rather than stand drunkenly at a bar counter; that the cleanliness of the café is important, probably because it provides a sense of order; and that the sufficient lighting is helpful in creating a pleasant, warm atmosphere. He also says that you wouldn’t want there to be music, perhaps because it would be more lively and less relaxing. The older waiter lingers to close up the café and contemplates the effects of setting. He apparently has no one to go home to either. As he turns off the electric lights, the darkness invades the café and his mind and here again, he reflects the setting. “It was not fear or dread. It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all nothing and a man was nothing too” (171). In this passage, we clearly learn that the older waiter experiences existential problems, and likely, depression. One of the hallmarks of depression

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