Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

Life is Meaningless: Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" 9th Grade

Life, on the basis of modernist fiction, is meaningless. In a sea full of people, a single person is just a speck. A small, insignificant part of a larger heterogeneous group in which our life has no value. Using his short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” as the means with the literary elements of characterization and light and dark imagery, Ernest Hemingway proposes the aforementioned concepts and advances the notion that a single person's life has no value and is meaningless.

In the short story, charactferization through the words of the older waiter is utilized to reveal traits of the old man and subsequently support Hemingway’s stance on the value of life. Taking place in a café late at night, an older man drinks to be drunk. He’s a regular customer of the establishment, and the two waiters, one old and one young, often muse on the old man, his actions, and his life. They explain that he tried to commit suicide last week because “he was in despair” about “nothing” (Hemingway 1). This introduces the reader to Hemingway's oft-utilized concept of nada, or nothingness. It’s evident that the man is lonely and feels nothing because of his suicide attempt. He has nothing in his life and feels worthless. He has no wife, no life,...

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