Symbolism in A Clean Well-Lighted Place
Symbolism, may be defined as a non-superficial representation of an idea or belief that goes beyond what is "seen." Earnest Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" uses symbolism to help convey the theme of Nihilism, the philosophy that there is nothing heavenly to believe in. It discusses that there is no supernatural reason or explanation of how the world is today. Three symbols: the soldier, the café, and the shadows of the leaves, found in Hemingway's short story clearly displays this Nihilistic theme.
The first clear display of Nihilism by the use of symbols is the brief passage description of the soldier passing the café with the prostitute. This imagery symbolizes that love and romance has been degraded to a level of "anonymous" sex. Nihilism ties into this fact that since there is no longer any form of pure love, why should a person believe in it? Hemingway uses an excellent form of symbolism to help convey this thought in referring that the street light shone on the brass number of the soldier's collar. The passage about light, which represents safety, is also written with the guard accompanying the young girl for sex that has nothing to do with love, but only of pleasure. The light is supposed to let the reader see that the guard is corrupt when he should be a loyal and an example to the community.
Hemingway's second portrayal of symbolism that a reader may distinguish is the café itself. The café represents a sanctuary of the evilness of the world. The namesake of the short story is a clue for the reader to see that the café would represent some form of an asylum not only from the elements of nature, but also safety from evil. An example of the usefulness of this sanctuary is how the deaf old man uses the café as a safe-haven to be to himself after the incident where he almost succeeded in committing suicide and enjoys the comfort the café gives. The old waiter represents in the café the kindness and caring that the café should provide;...