Thursday, May 17, 2012

"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"- Ernest Hemmingway


  1. I think the fact that the old man is deaf symbolizes how he is cut off from the rest of the world. He is obviously lonely; he's already tried to kill himself. The fact that he gets drunk every night and leaves the bar late indicates that he has nothing better to do in the last years of his life. Hemingway through this story shows the viewpoints of life from a young and elderly prospective using the two waiters. The young waiter has ignorance that only a younger man who has not yet experienced the world has about him. He could not see past the liquor that the old deaf man drinks; to notices the nothingness that the dark night brings for him or his fear of being nothing and that it was something that could only go away when seen in clean and well lighted place or in the light of day. While the older waiter shared the fears of the old man because he too went home to nothing.

    sandrine amin

  2. I think that this story was kind of sad. This is because the old guy is deaf and clearly depressed, and people are talking about him behind his back saying that he should have killed himself. No one should ever say that to someone even if they cannot hear you. But, I think that the point of this story was to show that money is not everything. The old man had plenty of money and he was still not happy.

    Why did the waiters keep filling the old mans glass?

    Kathryn Collins
    Period 4

  3. I believe that the focus of this story is not on the old man, but rather the older waiter who finds himself at a critical juncture in his life. On one side, this man hears the naivety of the younger waiter who cannot understand the troubles of the deaf old man; on the other side, the older waiter sees this miserable, deaf old man who is depressed despite having lots of money. The older waiter praises the younger waiter, telling the ignorant young man that he truly is living at an age where his worries are far fewer. The older waiter can only look back at what he was at that age, and he now must look forward to the troubles that could potentially burden him in his future, which he sees in the deaf old man.


    Is it better to live blissfully ignorant or aware of the hardships in the future ?

    - Zhanneta.
    Period 1.

  4. This was a sad story. It wasn't right for the waiters working at the bar to be prying into the deaf man's life so much, even if he couldn't hear them. It was particularly appalling when the older waiter said, "He should have killed himself last week" simply because he wanted to go to bed at a reasonable time. If this man is that much of a problem, the bar should have a specific closing time that everyone needs to leave at. It's unfortunate how ignorant that waiter is about the deaf man, seeing as he didn't particularly care that he almost killed himself and wished that he had died after all.

    What was the real reason behind what the waiter claims to be his insomnia?

    Alessandra M.
    Per. 4

  5. This story was entertaining in the sense of the role of greed in our society. It also exploits the theme of selfishness in that the waiter cared more about sleep, than the sake of the old man. I found it interesting how, when talking about the old man attempting suicide, when one of the waiters asks how the other knew it was over nothing, he replies with, "He has a lot of money." It as if he is saying because he has money, nothing in the world can touch or bother him.

    Tyler King
    Period 1

  6. I completely agree with Sandrine on this piece of literature. It makes complete and total sense that this story was told to see the world from two completely different viewpoints. It depicts how selfish and naïve a younger person is. And at the same time, it shows that when people get older they have more burdens on their shoulders that they must deal with one way or another. The middle aged waiter is the midpoint to these two views and he sees the reasoning of the younger waiter, but at the same time he can relate to the old man. He has gone though life picking up burdens, and he notices that one day that will be him. I believe that the ending of the story represents that once we understand someone, we try to accommodate them hoping that we will receive the same treatment one day.

    Did the old waiter refill the old man’s glass out of compassion or because it was his job?

    Pompeo M

  7. Going off of the title of this story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” the light represented life, vitality, and peace. The deaf, old man came to the café every night to drink and wash away all his troubles. No money in the world could ever make him as happy compared to all the things light can give. Even at the café he would sit in the “shadow of the leaves of the tree.” This symbolizes the darkness and past troubles that still burden him and of what he must face at home. The old waiter must also relate to this. He wants to stay at the café as long as possible because he understands what the old man must feel. The light in the café is a soothing presence that can help people in times of need. The light means so much when the real world is dark and gruesome. The younger waiter is more naïve and less understanding of this idea, but as he grows older, I’m sure he will appreciate all that light has to offer.

    Do you think other troubled people come to this particular café for its lightness?

    Kelly Du
    Period 1

  8. It is obvious that the old man is a foil to the young waiter. The two contrasting ages differ in not only their sleep cycles but their wants. The younger waiter doesn't understand why the old man with plenty of money tried to kill himself, the young waiter is yet to discover that money truly isn't the meaning of everything. The older waiter represents the turning point of age, no longer young but not yet old. He sympathizes with the old man because he knows that one day all to soon that will be him. He provides a clean, well light place for late night thinkers in hopes he will have his own. I believe the old man frequents at such late hours because each sleep brings him closer to death, he is not yet ready to surrender his remaining time to waiting for death. Neither is the middle aged waiter, even after mournfully closing he still wanders around and will lay awaake until day break. He is not ready to lose conscious even if it is in sleep instead of death. He is fighting the inevitable, but at least he is fighting.

    What must the younger waiter realize to eventually evolve into the older waiter and ultimately the deaf man?

    -Steve Perrotti
    Period 4

  9. People's senses are sharpest in their youth, especially when they are around their mid 20's. As they get older, their senses gradually weaken. In relation to this story, "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" may be reference to the lucidity of life. The elderly people, the waiter and the deaf man, seemed to never sleep at the right hour. Sure, people need less sleep as they get older, but in this story, it seemed like the elders' sleeping troubles were more in the fact that their senses are getting duller. Thus, they tried to live the extra hours through the night to maybe get something out of life. As a result, they sleep through the day. This is ironic because the old waiter mentioned that he liked well-lighted cafes. Well-lighted cafes suggest a morning feel, or a "new beginning". He would always miss the opportunity to experience a new day. Being old, like the deaf man, there is no new beginning to look forward to as time runs out.

    Knowing that we are nearing towards death, is it better to try to enjoy extra time or to make the best of our normal daily lives?

    Period 1

  10. This story is told to contrast two people at different stages of life, one a rich old man who doesn’t think twice about the time, and a young waiter who is in a rush to finish the night and start the next day. And, while the old man finds happiness at the bottom of a bottle, the young man believes that money is what will bring him happiness. This story is about how people look at the value of life and how opinions change with age.

    Do you think it was mean that the waiter said he wished the old man had killed himself?

    Marisa Period 4

  11. This story demonstrates the selfishness and longing in people. The old man did not drink at home because he liked being in the presence of the people at the diner. The people at the diner are his family in a sense. The waiter in this story was extremely selfish. He wanted to stop serving the man so he would be forced to go home. Also, he wished that the old man had killed himself the week before so that way he would no longer have to serve him. This was upsetting because the old man was portrayed as the bothersome family member that no one wants to be around.

    Do you think the old man could sense the waiter's disgust toward him?

    -Ashley Murphy
    Period 4

  12. The story was intresting. I like how the author placed all these three character in the same place and showed how their thinking and behaviour differed from one another becuase it showed how people gradually change or in this case develop from their youth to their old age. For instance: the young waiter thought that the deaf old coustomer of the cafe should have killed himself becuase he was not able to go back to his wife only because of him,he is very care free,the old waiter thought that it was not a polite thing to ask the deaf man to leave before their actual closing time and he thought thag the lights of the cafe will help to walk around, it shows that he is kind of resposible where as the old dead man was completly cut off from the people because of this unability to listen to anything that was going around. I think the deaf man being rich signifies that eventually in life everyone will understand that being rich is not worth all the pain you took to earn it.

    Will the deaf old man try to kill himself again ?

    Shila Rajbahak
    Per 1

  13. Ernest Hemmingway influentially uses the literary element of symbolism in his incorporation of light and dark within the short story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” The reader of the work is immediately put into the setting of a café late into the hours of night where all customers have gone home and the waiters and barman are waiting upon the departure of an 80 year old drunken deaf man. This man is a usual at the café. He follows a strict regiment and the waiters know that if he becomes too intoxicated he will leave without payment for his liquor. This knowledge proves that the deaf man is a regular and that he finds some sense of security and sensation drinking alone in the waning hours of the night. His routine provides consistency to the otherwise chaotic day that may confuse an individual unable to hear the reality of his environment. The close observation of this man brings to foreground the discussion of his personal history and sets a focal point on his being. It should be noted that while the entire café is illuminated with light and is clean, the elderly man chooses to sit in the shadows of the leaves at a table that is less then clean. The placement of himself in solitude gives the man a gloomy and dismal connotation that may be internally solved by his binge drinking. Alcohol serves as a depressant, meaning it depresses the immune system creating a relaxed psychological state. Thus it can be argued that the man’s outlet is found in an escape from reality through the consumption of alcohol, specifically brandy. The need to escape reality is only prompted by a destructive cause found in his depression. In discussing his depression, the younger waiter takes a darker path while the older waiter takes a much more understanding and lighter path. The older is disappointed in the naivety of the younger and sees the younger’s selfishness in wanting to return home as less important than the sanity and well being of the deaf man.

    How does age and life experience affect one’s analysis of the deaf man’s predicament?

    Alexander Borkowski Period 1

  14. I feel as though it's hard for the young waiter and the old rich man to really relate to each other because of the fact that they are from two opposite sides of society. The young waiter has to scramble for money while the old man has any material items he wishes for. However, what the young man doesn't understand is that even though the old man can posses whatever he wants, that won't make him happy. Money cannot buy a person's happiness. He wants to kill himself because he doesn't have anyone who he is close to, money cannot create relationships for a person either. Thus, that is why the waiter doesn't understand why the older man is so depressed.

    Why do you think the old man's niece was concerned for his soul?

    Jessica Teulings
    Period 4

  15. There is a big contrast between the old man and the young waiter. It is sad that the young man doesnt understand the elderly because before long he will be like them too. The older waiter can understand the deaf man and how he needs a simple place to rink away his troubles. The younger man is extreamly harsh and close minded. Just because he doesnt have a wife to go home to he thinks that he should just kill himself. It seems that the young man feels superior to the older man. The old deaf man may have been suicidal but I think that he is a lot wiser than the young man.

    What is the significance of the setting?

    Emily McColl

  16. This story hands down, has probably become the most interesting story of the school year, thus far. I really enjoy it because I feel like there is so much that you can really take out of it. Number one, I like the characters, and I believe the author did a wonderful job in making me draw a connection with each one of the characters. In the beginning, we learn about the old man through the waiters bickering with each other. We learn enough about him to get a broad picture, and then fill in our own details and opinions about the old man. As the story progresses, we learn about the young and that he himself is more narcissistic than the others and that he does care more about himself than the others. Finally, in the end, we learn about the older waiter and get to see a greater light shed on this character as he walks the street. Second, I like how it kind of showed the relationship between the older usually always being wiser. An example of this is how the young waiter would always act for himself on impulse. However the old waiter would speak to him, as if he was speaking from experience, he would go on and tell the young waiter to not be irrational and usually correct him when he was wrong. Third, I like the tying in of the title and the cafe. I can almost picture a room that is clean and well lighted with an old man sitting by himself and the two waiters arguing back in forth. I believe this is awesome because it makes the story come to life and actually begin to develop a strong mental picture for me. Lastly, I really enjoy the ending, how the old waiter thinks, maybe besides all of this, it is just insomnia. I like this because it doesn't give any type of closure, rather it leaves us to think, does this man have some crazy unique flaw wrong with him, or is he just mad that he can never sleep when he wants to. All and all, so far, I am really enjoying the Hemingway readings and hopefully it continue to stay like this

    Do you believe that the old waiter can relate to the old man?

    Edgar Ortiz
    Period 1

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