The Human Condition
Hemmingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place illustrates that the human condition varies based on one’s appreciation of life and age. The author uses symbolism and characterization to illustrate these points through the four characters he portrays. The young waiter is depicted as an impatient and brash individual who does not regard others’ conditions and sees them as obstacles to going home early (Kennedy & Gioia 1). He does not consider that the older man visiting their café every day is suitable for their business, deeming it a challenge to serve the customer. In contrast, the older waiter empathizes with the old customer and does not dismiss him as his counterpart. He illustrates a middle point in life involving looking at the bigger picture. While they would both prefer to close earlier, as characterized by the older waiter’s preference for clean and well-lit establishments that do not operate at night, he understands the older man’s possible motives for visiting the café instead of bodegas.In only 3 hours we’ll deliver a custom Life Appreciation in Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” essay written 100% from scratch Learn more
The waiters’ conversations also illustrate want and a lack of contentedness. Each individual considers others to have everything and should be void of any desire. They are astounded that the old customer would try killing himself because of despair, as he has plenty of money (Kennedy & Gioia 1). The older waiter also claims the younger one has everything as he is confident, youthful, and has a wife. His counterpart also discerns that the older waiter has everything he does and should be content. The waiters indicate a common issue among people as they do not consider others’ lives difficult based on material things.
Source of Conflict
It is evident that the young waiter has an issue with the old customer, emphasized by the claim that he does not pay when drunk. He also illustrates a lack of respect for the older man and talks rudely because the customer cannot hear him. It is essential to consider that the young and old waiters do not empathize with the older man or their counterparts. The café operates until the late hours of the night, which is one of the reasons older man visits the establishment (Kennedy & Gioia 1). It is plausible the client would leave if the conditions were different, as they chose this location for this reason. The old waiter does not empathize with his younger compatriot’s plight, having to leave late every night despite being married (Kennedy & Gioia 2). These individuals also ignore the older man’s issues, discussing his suicide attempt casually and with shock. They do not realize the older man might be suffering from another source of anguish that does not involve money.
Hope of Redemption
Each of the story’s characters provides a glimpse of hope for understanding the human condition and overcoming obstacles in life. The young waiter first shows this hope as he does not wish to be unjust (Kennedy & Gioia 2). The character’s actions are driven by a positive reason, getting home to his wife earlier than the usual three o’clock. It is also possible to see hope in the story via the older waiter’s train of thought since he does not dwell on the negative aspects of life but chooses to focus on a seemingly positive note. He notes the clean nature of the bodega he visits before going home (Kennedy & Gioia 3). The older man’s story also posits a form of light at the end of the tunnel through his niece’s actions. She saves him when he gives up on life, signifying that people should not despair as others see their importance and are willing to fight for their lives.
Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, Portable Edition, MLA Update Edition. 13th ed., Pearson Education, 2016.