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The story A Clean Well-lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway is about an old man who goes to a cafe very late at night to drink alcohol. He has nothing to do with his life and is very lonely because his wife died even though he lives with his niece who takes care of him because he is deaf. Even though he has a ton of money he still isn't content with life and tried committing suicide. One of the younger waiters wants to go home so he can see his family and go to sleep but he blames the old man. The younger waiter is very arrogant and only is concerned about him. The old man wants to drink more, but the younger waiter says the cafe is going to close even though the cafe is open for another hour so the old man pays and leaves. The young waiter says to the older waiter that he can just go to a bar if he wants a drink. The older waiter says that cafes are much cleaner and has more light than a bar does. That's why he likes to keep the cafe open so late. It is more comfortable to be at cafes than to be at a bar. The younger waiter says good night and leaves the bar. The older waiter say two prayers to himself one is the Lord's Prayer and the other one is a Catholic Prayer called Hails Mary prayer but he switches the words around with nada. Then he goes into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender offers him another drink but the he says that the bar is dirty and then leaves the place.
The old man is about 80 years old and being in a dark and dirty place will remind him of death. That's why he goes to a place where there is light and that is clean. Also he is clean himself. He drinks so he doesn't have to think about life and how horrible it may be to him, so he can forget about the world. For the younger waiter the cafe represents his life and future. He is thankful to have a job to support his family, but the two older men thinks about the cafe in a different way. It is something that they can look forward to everyday. When the waiter says the two prayers but replaces the words with nada, he is basically saying that there is no such thing as heaven or delightfulness in life. They are both trying to find the meaning of life and praying won't help. He is also saying there is nothing to look forward to in life. That's why they go to the cafe because it takes the nothingness away in life and it is a safe place that they can come to for comfort. Only a clean and well lit place is comforting.
The story is also about how the youth is different than the elderly. The youth basically just think about themselves and their own needs, but the elderly think about other people's needs. For instance the younger waiter doesn't think that the old man should be unhappy because he has plenty of money. The young waiter says he has a ton of money, but money doesn't solve everything. Money isn't everything in life and the younger waiter doesn't seem to get that because that's what he looks forward to. Money is just an object that can't take away emotional feelings. Another example is that the younger waiter wants to get home to his family and sleep, but isn't concerned about the old man at all. While the older waiter thinks about the needs of the older man and doesn't care if he is up too late. The younger waiter just doesn't seem to care at all and doesn't want listen. The older man knows what it is like to be at that age. The older waiter is trying to say to the younger waiter that he should be lucky for what he has; he still has youth in him and something to look forward to everyday. The older waiter sees himself in the older man. Once the older waiter gets as old as the old man he is going to be just as lonely as he is and is going to need a place like the cafe to be open at night when he does get lonely. The older waiter doesn't really say that he is lonely he says that he has insomnia. The old waiter denies that he is lonely because he doesn't want to be like the older man which they clearly are alike. They both don't have anything to look onward to and they both are depressed. The older waiter just doesn't want to agree that he is. The older waiter and man have nothing to go home to at night. The younger waiter sees what older people have to go through and he doesn't want to get old. He says why doesn't the old man go ahead and kill himself. He is saying why would someone want to go through all that pain and misery and he is also saying that he doesn't want to be like that when he gets older. The older waiter is trying to teach the younger waiter a lesson. He is trying to tell the younger waiter to open his eyes and quit being so egotistical.
A lot of people can relate to this story because many people can look at their grandparents and see that they are not as happy as they used to be. I look at my grandma and see that she is getting older and lonely. Her husband died awhile back ago and her children lives farther away from her. She's coming to the point where she needs to be around more people to find joy back in her life. Just like the old man he wants to be around people so he isn't so lonely. I know that I don't want to be like my grandma, feeling so lonely but I know it will happen in some point in my life. Just like the younger waiter he doesn't want to experience getting older either, but everyone has to go through it. That's why the younger waiter wants to go home at night so he doesn't have to see older people coming in and so he won't have to see what he might look like when he gets older. He doesn't want to experience looking at older people and how they can get lonely at this age, he wants to live his life and not worry about that right now. He wants to go home happy and not think about the troubles in life. The old waiter is trying to tell him that not everything in life is going to be happy and in some point in his life something is not going to fall in his way.