Analysis of 'A Clean, Well-lighted Place' by Ernest Hemingway

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About this sample


Words: 1255 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 1255|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

'A Clean, Well-Lighted Place' is Hemingway's paean to a kind of existential skepticism, an investigation of the significance, or deficiency in that department, of presence. It plainly communicates the way of thinking that underlies the Hemingway ordinance, harping on subjects of death, vanity, aimlessness, and sadness. Through the contemplations and expressions of a moderately aged Spanish server, Hemingway embodies the primary precept of his existential way of thinking. Life is innately good for nothing and leads definitely to death, and the more seasoned one gets, the more clear these facts become and the less capable one is to force any sort of request on one's presence or keep up any sort of energy in one's standpoint.

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'A Clean, Well-Lighted Place' is more similar to a character sketch than a plot-driven bit of fiction; this absence of plot causes us to notice the primary subject of the story: life, both in writing and out, can be seen basically as 'nothing y pues nothing y pues nothing' – nothing and nothing and nothing. There is no activity in this story. The hero doesn't do anything, nor do the other two characters. Essentially, we have three folks who speak to various phases of life. The story is more a contemplation on these phases than a genuine 'story' about any of them.

This story, in any case, satisfies the innovator name; it is a capricious, super-short, mental representation of three characters. The internal monolog of the more seasoned server quickly plunges into continuous flow mode, a procedure made especially well known by Hemingway's counterparts James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. The story doesn't endeavor to do anything we anticipate that a short story should do – there is no genuine clash, and positively no goals. Or maybe, it essentially delineates a progression of minutes in regular day to day existence.

In 'A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,' Hemingway offers a genuinely negative perspective on the world, proposing that even individuals who are youthful, upbeat, and thoroughly substance will some time or another end up forlorn, alcoholic, and disappointed. By giving us three characters in various phases of life (youthful, moderately aged, and old), Hemingway delineates how life becomes progressively inadmissible, until the main reasonable alternatives are self-destruction or intoxication.

The genuine clash of 'A Clean, Well-Lighted Place' isn't between two characters, in any case, rather, in an increasingly theoretical sense, among man and time. The story manages characters that all have various dreams of the importance of time – the most youthful man esteems it, however the more established characters don't. The most established character, a man close to the furthest limit of his life, is essentially breathing easy until he kicks the bucket. The fact is, the more established you get, the additional time wears upon you, and the more you feel your mortality. Hemingway needs us to perceive the way that we all will develop old and bite the dust sometime soon, regardless of how youthful or certain we are currently.

Hemingway's delineation of mature age topples conventional impression of the old as smarter and more content with the world; mature age in this story involves more prominent discontent and disappointment, while astuteness increased about existence is perplexing as opposed to consoling.

As per Hemingway, it is the widespread destiny of death towards which we're going normally yet before it seeks his characters, they're bound to a sort of living limbo, essentially holding on to pass on. The elderly person attempts to rush along this procedure by hanging himself, yet his niece obstructs him by chopping him down. Since self-destruction doesn't work out, he is compelled to continue carrying on with such a half-life, intoxicated and desolate. The other significant part is the way that Hemingway needs his characters to acknowledge this destiny with nobility; the elderly person positively does, and we see the more established server during the time spent dealing with it. The more youthful server, in any case, opposes the possibility that he could be that elderly person sometime in the future, in the same way as other of us he imagines that his childhood and certainty will keep going forever. In any case, the story bleakly infers that these important things are at last, such as everything else, helpless against the staggering nothingness of presence.

The nearness of three characters in three unique phases of life can be viewed as a purposeful anecdote exhibiting the movement of a person's point of view as that individual gets more established. From the start, the individual lives certainly and foolishly, tolerating the shows of occupation and family as adequate to offer importance to their life, yet as he gets more established, he starts to scrutinize the kinds of implying that have been forced on his reality and discovers them empty. He may endeavor to force his own arrangement of implications and qualities on himself, in any case, Hemingway infers, he will fizzle and slip into the acknowledgment that life is nothing and he is nothing. When this acknowledgment is reached and he develops old, he falls into despair at the proximity of death and a mind-blowing vanity and may well decide to end his reality on his own terms instead of trust that occasions will surpass him. Maybe, with this decision, he is at long last ready to assume some responsibility for his predetermination.

The apathetic portrayal of 'A Clean, Well-Lighted Place' proposes a target tone and permits us to truly process what the characters are stating. A large portion of the story is simply exchange, punctuated by a long section of 'nothing', we don't have anything else to concentrate on however the character's words and contemplations, and Hemingway doesn't endeavor to meddle with our translation of these things. He infrequently puts any judgment on his characters; for instance, when the more youthful server tells the elderly person, 'You ought to have murdered yourself a week ago' (7), another creator may have been enticed to include some harsh descriptor in there to show how inconsiderate the server is maybe 'he said pitilessly' or 'he said unsympathetically.' Hemingway, be that as it may, just leaves it for what it's worth, spotless, straightforward, and proud: ''You ought to have slaughtered yourself a week ago,' he said.'

The composing style is inadequate, straightforward and unornamented. Its outrageous brevity comes to its meaningful conclusion even more impressive, and the immediate reportage of exchange and inward monolog are more successful here than any measure of distinct language would ever be. The most clear line we get, indeed, is the opening of the story, which, truth be told, scarcely reveals to us anything by any means: 'It was late and each one had left the bistro with the exception of an elderly person who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light' (1).

As far as symbolism, the story utilizes differences to upgrade its philosophical importance: youth and age, dimness and light, cleanness and dirtiness, commotion and calm, and nature (shadows of leaves) and artificial articles (espresso machine).

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Hemingway's omniscient third individual portrayal permits us to perceive what's going on both inside and outside of the character's brains. We get traces of what's going on with the more youthful server and the elderly person for instance, we realize that the elderly person can feel the distinction when it's quiet and that the more youthful server isn't really a miscreant and he was simply in a rush. More fundamentally, however, we get a nearby gander at within the more seasoned server's psyche, where the genuine importance of the story is uncovered. 

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Analysis of ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ by Ernest Hemingway. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Analysis of ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ by Ernest Hemingway.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
Analysis of ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ by Ernest Hemingway. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
Analysis of ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ by Ernest Hemingway [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from:
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