A Clean, Well Lighted Place, By Ernest Hemingway

1543 words - 6 pages

The infamous Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal." For Ernest Hemingway, the characters that he places in his stories are forever searching for peace. Much like in life itself, the achievement of temporary peace throughout the path of a lifetime can be both minute and momentous. The writer uses the literary devices of indirect characterization, setting and symbolism in order to enhance his final classification of peace. In Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place," the author uses literary devices to define peace, as the temporary abandonment of one's problems, assisting one to find an avenue to persevere in life.
To begin, Hemingway indirectly characterizes the old waiter as wise in order to demonstrate how he utilizes this quality to facilitate the abandonment of his problems. At the bar, when analyzing the old drunk man, the old waiter immediately recognizes the root of the drunkard's problems. He feels sympathy for the man, pointing out that he is in despair and that he might be happier if he was married (Hemingway 2-3). The old waiter also uses his wisdom when he offers the young waiter advice. The old waiter suggests that the young waiter forget about his lack of confidence and youth and move on with his priorities (Hemingway 4). The old waiter demonstrates his wisdom once more on his journey home after working at his clean cafe. He notices that the bar where he has sat down for a small drink is very bright, but dirty. He then contemplates laying in bed and getting a restful sleep during the daytime. The story reads, "He disliked bars and bodegas. A clean, well-lighted café was a very different thing. Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep" (Hemingway 5). Through Hemingway's use of indirect characterization, the reader learns that wisdom is the old waiter's method for disregarding his problems, thus achieving a state of peace. Hemingway chooses to indirectly characterize the old man as wise in order to prove that because of the man's investment in knowledge, he is able to come to a state of peace. In the quest for peace, Hemingway clearly indicates, through the old man's characterization, that the old waiter is indeed the most successful in attaining peace. The old waiter consumes himself in thoughts that revolve around his wisdom, such as truth and understanding, instead of dwelling on his problems. Throughout the story, the old waiter comes across instances in which he utilizes his peace to come to terms with a situation. For example, the old waiter feels sympathy for the intoxicated man at the bar. While some would choose to ignore his hardship, the wise waiter empathizes with him, assisting himself in finding peace in his use of perception. In addition, the old waiter uses his wisdom when the younger waiter begins complaining about his lack of...

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