In Search Of Light And Finding Darkness         In His Short

1014 words - 4 pages

In Search of Light and Finding Darkness In his short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" Ernest Hemingway creates the stages of his life and portrays himself as the character of the older waiter viewing a customer, the old man, slipping away into the shadows, sheltered from the light of life. Hemingway was a creative but tormented artist and if the reader spends the time with an open mind it is easy to get into, and enjoy his stories. In order to fully understand Hemingway, if one can fully do so, you must know some background and history that influenced these special stories. Short stories are the most difficult to write as they must convey the point, set the stage, describe the characters, and in Hemingway's , case he put himself into his stories, adding to the complexities while still saying so much.It is well known that the Hemingway family had a history of suicide as well as cases of severe depression. Hemingway himself ended his own life at the age 69. He mentioned to his family that he felt he had lost his ability to write. He put himself into his characters and he was not living new adventures as he had in the past, nor reliving old ones; he was getting older. In this story he was looking at the past and, at the same time, what he felt was his future. The younger waiter projects the impatience of youth and disdain for older people who are slow and don't seem to have any excitement left in their lives. "An old man is a nasty thing, says the young waiter," he only cares that the old man pays his tab and leaves (200). The young waiter is anxious to leave, live his life and see what the light will bring. The older waiter understands the old man, that someday he will in fact be him, and understands there is no point in rushing. For him finally, daylight brings sleep. The older waiter says, "The old man is clean. He drinks without spilling." "I am of those who like to stay late at the café." He says "Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be someone who needs the café."(200-201) As the old man leaves he walks unsteadily but with dignity. This is understood by the older waiter but not the younger one.The soldier that passes through the scene at the beginning of the story was a glimpse of Hemingway in his young, adventure years, with no attachments, not settled down yet and before he had someone permanent to come home to. The soldier was a brief reference to his time in the wars in Europe. It is hard to tell but I believe the older waiter was speaking to the younger one playing the moralist when he said the soldier had better get off the street or the guard will pick him up. The younger waiter says "what does it matter if he gets what he's after?"(199)....

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