Troubles of Loneliness, Despair, and Nothingness
in Old Age
Silence, the absence of sound or noise may be all-too-familiar to some. The feelings accompanied by the silence may be good, but over a long time are enough to turn anyone crazy. It brings with itself loneliness, despair and simply nothing. These feelings are strong enough to drive someone to suicide as in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place “ by Ernest Hemingway. Both older characters feel loneliness, despair, and a sense of nothingness, and the only refuge they have is the café. However not everyone feels this, Santiago is alone at sea for three days in Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, and does not get lonely. He remains sane through prayers and talking to the fish and the birds whom he becomes friends with. Perhaps the biggest reason he does not give up or ever feel down when all alone is the thought of getting back to the boy Manolin. Manolin is Santiago’s closest friends and they care very much about each other. Santiago is one example of how in old age, loneliness, despair, and the sense of nothingness, may be combated through friendship and religion.
In Ernest Hemingway’s short story “A Clean Well-Lighted Place”, despair is a common theme. Both the old man, and the old waiter struggle to deal with it, and the old man has tried many different methods to get rid of the feeling. He had a wife, but his wife died; and he tried to commit suicide. The one thing he still has however is money, which can buy a lot but not true friendship like Santiago and Manolin share in Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. Santiago has even less than the old man in terms of money and materialistic belongings. However, he is happier and despair is foreign to him. This is a result of the friendship the two share. “Aloud he said ‘I wish I had the boy’” (51). Their friendship fills Santiago’s despair. In old age however when the people closest to you begin to pass away as Santiago and the old deaf man’s wives did,...