The Importance Of Nothingness In Ernest Hemingway's A Clean Well-Lighted Place

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Nothing is Needed for Something
Many people judge their success on how much they have and the material possessions around them; Ernest Hemingway, however, believes people must accept they are nothing to achieve true success and happiness. Nothingness is a difficult concept for many to grasp, but it becomes more clear with age what nothingness means. People also often do not want to accept or believe they are nothing in the world. Most believe they have a specific purpose and are in some way important, when in reality, they are nothing in the big picture. Before they can become important, they must realize their insignificance. In A Clean Well-Lighted Place, Hemingway conveys his message people can only become something once they realize they
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The story begins with the scene being set. The old man, "sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light" (Hemingway). As stated before, he is okay with sitting in the darkness because he has already experienced the light. Hemingway proceeds to write about the old man's attempt at suicide. The two waiters discuss why he tried to do it, saying he was in despair about nothing, and it was nothing because the old man had plenty of money. Hemingway did not write which waiter said what, but it is assumed the younger waiter said, "He had plenty of money," (Hemingway) because throughout the story Hemingway develops the young waiter's appreciation of material belongings and ignorance of nothingness. After refilling the old man's cup a few times, the young waiter finally kicks him out. The young waiter does not care about the old man's comfort, all he wants to do is go home to his wife. After the old man leaves, the two waiters dispute about letting him stay, "'Why didn't you let him stay and drink?' the unhurried waiter asked. 'I want to go home to bed.' 'What is an hour?' 'More to me than to him.' 'An hour is the same,'" furthermore displaying the young waiter's ignorance and the old waiter's compassion (Hemingway). Once the waiters close the café, the old waiter moves to an unpolished bar, while thinking about nothingness on the way. He observed, "It was all a nothing and a man was a nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada…" The old waiter knows he is nothing and everything is nothing. Through the plot of his story, Hemingway establishes wisdom and the idea of nothingness comes with age and nothingness is required to become something. Because of the omniscient narrator, the reader can clearly see all

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