A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway

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Just imagine reading a book, an article, a poem or even a movie. Now to find out there is absolutely no plot to go along with it. Everything will just seem to be a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. That’s exactly what Ernest Hemingway portrayed when he wrote A Clean, Well- Lighted Place that takes place in Spain. Hemingway surely had me on my toes while reading this story.

I found Ernest Hemingway to be extremely phenomenal because he didn’t give us any of the three character’s names or what their purpose is throughout the story. I feel Hemingway wanted us to look outside the box, and read in between the lines to see the true meaning. Everything in this story is simply about absolutely nothing and the emptiness the old man felt at the bar. You begin to wonder when a person is feeling a sense of loneliness where their behavior and thoughts can lead to. I found it very interesting when the old man wanted to commit suicide and the young waiter couldn’t comprehend why. The young waiter asked the old waiter why would a person with so much money would want to do such harm (Hemingway). It just simply goes to show that money doesn’t make anyone happy and we can all feel a sense to desperation at times. The old man’s way of dealing with nothing is going and drinking at the same bar each and every night.

The old waiter was more relatable to the old man than the young waiter was in terms of feeling emptiness in society. During the story, I realized that the young man wanted to return to his wife after a long tired day at work. The old waiter knows exactly how the old man is feeling to go home in complete darkness with no one to communicate or share your thoughts with. Another similarity is that the old waiter kept defending the old man when the young waiter disrespected that old people are dirty. He simply told the young waiter to see how neatly the old man is drinking his brandy. The young waiter was acting very suborn to rush home and to kick the old man out of the bar to go home and rest. He was only thinking of himself at this point and not realizing how lonely and lost the old man was feeling. It crossed my mind if the young waiter did kick him out and the story took another turning point, if he was going to end up committing suicide. The young waiter would’ve felt regret for the rest of his life. It always important to look at how a person is feeling and acting at any given moment. It doesn’t matter if the person is poor or very wealthy. Everyone deals with their own issues differently and sometimes some decisions might surprise you, positive or negative. They both know the importance to stay up until daylight to avoid sleeping in the darkness. This is also because they want to avoid any sort of suicide thought. They both think if they stay up drinking at the bar all night they feel a sense of safety. The young waiter is on a different mentality than the other two and this is because age plays a huge role. The older you get you begin to see the world in a whole different light and become wiser. Towards the ending when the old man entered the bodega and waiter called him insane for responding to “nada” for his drink order and just brings him a cup of coffee. He simply didn’t believe in anything and Hemingway goes on his way and made fun of the Lord’s prayer by writing” Our nada who art in nada, nada by the name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada.” (Hemingway). During the ending Hemingway described the old man’s tiredness at “insomnia”, but I took it as in reality he’s just afraid of sleeping in an empty room all alone with no one around to listen to his thoughts and feelings.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading this amazing story by Hemingway. It truly showed me that a story can have no plot or any character’s names, and yet have so much to say about it. Even though the theme is about nothing, it speaks louder than its meaning. What I also got out of A Clean, Well- Lighted Place is no matter how old a person is it’s very important to always be mindful before you judge someone. Everyone is living their own unique life and at the same time living with their own fear. It was very important that the old waiter stayed with the old man knowing they have many similarities and didn’t let him go home to complete darkness.

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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway. (2019, Jul 08). Retrieved April 20, 2024 , from

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