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Perspective on "A Well Lighted Place" By Ernest Hemmingway?

Posted by Blossome Allen on December 23, 2010 at 6:13 PM

The story is set, first in a quiet cafe and later in an all night pub after midnight ina Spanish neighborhood. the main characters are two nameless waiters, one young impatient and the other an older lonely waiter with an old deaf patron of the cafe. the patron is a regular customer who is not only deaf and aged butdepressed about life. He is the last custorme and the young waiter is rearing to exxit the cafe. eventhough it is an hour before closing time. his desire to leave makes him rude and abrasivve to the aged patron.The youthful waiter tells the older waiter that the old man  stays too late, gets intoxicated and once attempted suicide suicide a few weeks before. He states that the old man had no reason to do so but seems to have too much money. However, he needs  the time and extra free hour to complete his marital duties.

The middle aged waiter sadly comments that youth has everything in his favor,  youth and confidence. the young man scoffs at his complaints. The older waiter talks about his desire to sit up late and his love of a clean and well lit cafe. The other waiters departure makes the older waiter  muse and mumble in half spanish on the emptiness of life. he repaeated uses the word "nada" in his musings suggesting his  alienation from God and Christianity and a spiriual force and a possible atheism. The story then switches to an all night pubwhere we see the middle-aged waiter drinking and commenting on the uncleanliness of bar though it is well lit. He expresses his preference for his bar which is relaxing.

Hemmingway uses the two waiters to represent age and youth, the cylce of life, the mental state, needs and attitudes of both groups. The lonely depressed rich and poor are represented by the aged patron and youthful waiter. The young waiter is symbolic of the impulsive, selfish youth who does not look beyond the present. the youth never understands the older generation and their needs.  


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