It’s More than What’s on the Surface
After reading Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” for the first time, on the surface, it seems to be uncomplicated, detached, cold and there is not much action in the story. But, once you read the story and then come to love it, you realize it has heart and soul and a very touching, affective meaning. Ernest Hemingway’s articulation in expressing the story takes his audience into a world of darkness, loneliness but in actuality, he is conveying what real life is actually all about, human nature and the need of human interaction.
One premise of the story surrounds an old man and an older waiter that works at the very clean and immaculate cafe. These men consider the café that is so well-lit as a safe haven or a sanctuary of sorts, to escape their fears and other insecurities. “You do not understand. This is a clean and pleasant café. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves” (Hemingway).
These two men share many things in common from emptiness, complete isolation, hopelessness and the fear of being nothingness “nada”. As they go to this place of safety each day it is only a brief moment of happiness that this café offers them. “The concepts of a safe haven and a secure base form an elegant partnership; secure attachment and not only provides a feeling of emotional connection but also promotes individual autonomy by encouraging
exploration of the wide world” (Coping with Depression 65). It is a mask to cover what is really going on in their lives if only for a fleeting moment. This place of comfort gives them only momentary happiness and cannot overcome the desperateness and sadness that they have in their own lives.
Another premise of the story is surrounded by deep conversation about the old man between two waiters. The younger waiter can be described as young, impatient, brash with his words, happily married and going through life very swiftly. His demeanor towards the old man is very rude. He tells the other waiter, “this old man is lonely and I am not lonely” (Hemingway). This younger waiter gives no thought as to why the old man might be lonely, only comparing the fact that he is not lonely. Hemingway’s method of expressing the story’s theme is the...