Fiction is often seen as a reflection of reality, but it can also be used to explore different themes and ideas. In “A Clean Well Lighted Place”, Ernest Hemingway uses the setting and theme of cleanliness to create a story that resonates with readers.
The story is set in a cafe in Spain, and the theme of cleanliness is explored through the characters and their actions. The old man who comes into the cafe every night is fixated on cleanliness, and he demands that the waiters keep the place clean. The younger waiter is tired of hearing him complain, and he eventually loses his patience. This leads to a confrontation between the two characters, and the old man leaves the cafe.
Ernest Hemingway’s excellent well-lit place has several motifs that spring off the page, but one theme that sticks out is despair. Webster’s IInd definition of despair is to lose all hope or confidence. In the narrative, the older waiter and the old deaf man appear to have a bond based on suffering. Both are elderly and like to be out late at night alone.
The young waiter cannot understand this and he is impatient with the old man. He also has no patience for those who do not drink.
The setting of the story takes place in a cafe in Spain. The time period is not clear but it seems to be around the early 1900s. The cafe is dimly lit and there are only a couple of customers at the late night hour. One customer is an old, deaf man while the other is a young waiter.
The theme of cleanliness is also evident in the story. The older waiter constantly mentions how clean the cafe is and how it needs to stay that way. He says,”You have to have light,” he said. “It is very well to have a clean well lighted cafe, but you do not want to be in it.” The cleanliness of the cafe is a symbol of order in the story. It is a place where people can go to escape the darkness and chaos of the world outside.
Aside from the plot, the location of a story may also be used to express its theme. The setting has various effects on the story’s message. The mood of a tale, as well as its structure and lesson, are influenced by the environment. The café is a symbol of hope for those who are lost since it is located in an abandoned area.
The time is stated in the story as “late evening” and this creates a feeling of loneliness, darkness, and cold. The two old men who frequent the café are there because they have nowhere else to go. They are not ready to go home to their beds because that would mean facing the emptiness of their homes and their lives. The café is a place where they can be around others, even if those others do not talk to them. They can pretend that they are part of the human race and not just lonely old men.
The setting also plays an important role in structure of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” The story is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different character: the young waiter, the old man, and the older waiter. The story is told from the point of view of the older waiter, which allows us to see the events unfold from his perspective. This provides insight into his character and allows us to understand why he feels the way he does about life.
The setting also helps to reinforce the theme of the story, which is the importance of human connection. The old men in the story are searching for a place where they feel connected to others, even if it is just in a small way. The café represents a clean, well-lit place where they can find that connection.
First, the environment contributes to the emotion of the story, as seen in this quote: “It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except for an old man who sat in the shadow of the tree’s leaves against the electric light.” (107) The setting establishes a gloomy atmosphere. Alone at a café late at night demonstrates a character’s personality via use of place.
For example, the cleanliness of the café represents the characters’ way of thinking. The old man is looking for a “clean, well-lighted place” because he wants order in his life. He is looking for a place where he feels comfortable and safe. The second reason the setting is important is because it provides clues about the characters. The clue that is given about the old man is that he is lonely.
This can be seen when he is sitting in the café by himself late at night. He has no one to talk to and no one to keep him company. The only thing keeping him company is the light from the lamp and the noise from the café. These two things are what make up the setting and they are important because they help to create the mood and provide clues about the characters.
The old man, while not the sort of intoxicated to get violent or rough, is certainly no pushover, as the setting had foretold: “but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference.” (107) The setting intensified the mood of serenity that the old man appreciated clean surroundings for nice peaceful drinks.
In addition, the old man is also blind so he requires more assistance, “the younger waiter put out his hand and touched the old man’s sleeve gently. ‘It is late,’ he said. We close at two now.’”(109) The old man is content with having someone to talk to and being in a well lit place as stated by the younger waiter. He doesn’t want to go home because home is dark and lonely. Even though the old man can’t see, he can tell that the café is clean and presentable from the light. This shows that even though he is old, blind, and deaf, he still has his standards of a perfect place to drink at night.
The theme of this story could be loneliness because the old man is content with drinking by himself at the café and talking to the waiter. He doesn’t want to go home because it’s dark and he’s alone. The setting plays a huge role in emphasizing the theme of loneliness because it creates a contrast between the calmness of the café versus the darkness of the old man’s house.
Another theme present in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is age. The old man is struggling to find peace and contentment in his old age. He is deaf, blind, and alone. The only place he feels comfortable is at the café, where he can drink and talk to the waiter. The setting of the story emphasizes the theme of age by contrast the old man’s age and frailty with the youth and vigor of the younger waiter.
The setting is also important in creating the mood of the story. The story takes place at night, in a café, and in an old man’s house. The darkness of night creates a feeling of loneliness and isolation, which is echoed in the descriptions of the old man’s house. The café is described as being clean and well-lit, which creates a feeling of peace and contentment. This contrast between the two settings emphasizes the themes of loneliness and age.