A Clean Well-Lighted Place

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It would appear that the older a person gets, the more he or she understands that their death draws evermore closer to them. While the younger a person is, the more they think that they are invincible and that nothing on this earth can possibly harm them. In Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” the older waiter can understand and sympathize with the old man who tried to kill himself the previous week, while the young waiter doesn’t understand why this man is alive and sees the man as a hindrance in the young waiter’s life. The older waiter represents wisdom, humbleness and compassion that the young waiter cannot even comprehend. The older waiter knows that not much separates himself from the old man in the café, and that it is his job to provide for this man a place of comfort and security. What the young waiter doesn’t understand that the older waiter does is this concept of life. The older waiter says that he has never “had confidence” (13) and he is no longer “young” (13). When people are young they feel as though they are invincible, that there is no way anything in this world can hurt them. Take a look at all the daredevils of this world and you see that most if not all are young and reckless. They just want to go out and live their lives with excitement. So when the young waiter sees this old man drinking brandy, he sees him as this thing that no longer has value. This is why he approaches the old man and says to him that he should have “killed himself last week” (11). Because surely someone who has lost faith in himself doesn’t deserve the faith of others right? Well not to the older waiter. He sees that this man struggles in the same ways he does. For what awaits for them both in the darkness is “nada” (13). Both men look for comfort in a clean well-lighted place. When people know that only darkness and nothing lies ahead of them, they search for a
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