A thoughtful response to Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place".

Essay by LL94588University, Master'sA+, February 2005

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Ernest Hemingway tells a story about the difference between an old man and a young man's perspective on life in "A Clean Well-Lighted Place." In this story, the younger waiter, impatient and confident, does not understand the old man who has come to the café to drink away his loneliness and fear. The younger waiter is unbelievably negative in everything he says and selfish in everything he does, always in one way or another talking about himself. For example, the young man is self-absorbed when he says to his colleague "He'll stay all night" "I'm sleepy now. I never get into bed before three o'clock. He should have killed himself last week" (188). He's further narcissistic when he says, "I don't want to look at him. I wish he would go home. He has no regard for those who must work"(188). It's interesting that the younger waiter's line of work is to serve people and yet all he does is complain.

The older waiter knows that he and the younger waiter are two very different people. The older waiter says, "I am of those who like to stay late at the café, with all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night"(189).

The older waiter differs from the younger waiter in that he shows compassion for other people, caring even about the soldier who passes by with the girl saying, "The guard will pick him up." The younger waiter counters with "What does it matter if he gets what he's after?"(187).

The older waiter is concerned that his place be clean. The younger waiter is not very careful when he pours the old man another brandy. "The waiter poured on into the glass so that...