Values in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Hemingway
In the short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” written by Ernest Hemingway, the varying values of people are discussed. They are attributed to different generations, whose struggles are unique partially due to the perceptions of old and young people concerning what problems are. Therefore, Hemingway sheds light on the theme of loneliness as it is viewed by different individuals while highlighting the despair which is inevitable, hard to understand, and cannot be compensated for by money.
The main topic of the selected story specified above is examined through the lens of the main characters’ lives. On the one hand, the young waiter serves as a representative of the new generation for which financial wellbeing is the key to happiness in the first place (Hemingway 2). On the other hand, the old waiter and the man visiting the café to drink brandy after attempting to commit suicide a few days before the described events belong to another category of people (Hemingway 2). They are aware of what being lonely and desperate means and do not confuse the terms emphasized by their opponent while realizing the “nothingness” of their existence (Deepa 17). Hence, the contrast between the characters is emphasized by the lack of understanding among them caused by varying values, and the existentialist motives are apparent to the reader (Deepa 17). From this perspective, it can be claimed that the story has a philosophical underpinning which is explicit to the audience due to the author’s shift of focus from events to their implications.
In conclusion, the controlling idea of the short story by Ernest Hemingway is the absence of meaning in one’s life which is more critical than the seeming financial wellbeing. It is discussed by comparing the opinions of two generations when their representatives reflect on the actions of the old man. Thus, the loneliness of the visitor clearly leads to despair and loneliness, which cannot be understood by outsiders.
Deepa, M. Muthu. “The Delineation of Despair Through The Old Man and The Old Waiter in A Clean Well-Lighted Place: Ernest Hemingway.” Literary Herald, vol. 3, no. 6, 2018, pp. 17-20. Web.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Splash at Yale, 1933. Splash at Yale. Web.