Essay about A Clean Well Lighted Place - Theme and Setting

936 Words Apr 4th, 2012 4 Pages
Theme and Setting
A clean well lighted place by Ernest Hemingway has a few themes that stand out clearly but the one theme that stands out to me is despair. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, despair means to lose all hope or confidence. In the story, the older waiter and the old deaf man somehow share a common bond of despair. Both men are of age and like to be out, late at night, alone. Asides from the story alone, the theme of the story can be brought out by the setting. The setting contributes to the story’s theme in different ways. The setting contributes to the mood of the story, to the structure of the story, and to the lesson of the story. The café represents salvation for despair which is shown through the setting of the
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The setting is pleasing and comfortable for those who need a place late at night yet, it was taken away from someone who needed it. Even though the old man left quietly, it was obvious he was not done drinking. If the setting were to be elsewhere like a bar, it would mean that the old man was looking for a good time but, that was not the case. The setting contributed to the lesson like a book to a lecture. Overall, the setting contributes to the theme. The café represents salvation, its cleanliness and good lighting suggest peace and relaxation, whereas a bar is chaotic and loud. The older waiter describes it as a refuge from the despair felt by those who are aware of the nothingness. In a clean well-lighted café, despair can be managed and even temporarily forgotten. When the older waiter describes the nothingness that is life, he says, “It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order.”(109) The “it” in the sentence was not defined, but we can speculate about the waiter’s meaning: although life and man are nothing, light, cleanliness, and order can serve as substance. They can help counter off the despair from anyone. As long as a clean, well-lighted café exists, despair can be kept in check. This shows how the setting contributes to the theme through the mood, the structure, and the lesson of the story shaped by the

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