A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Essay

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Life sucks, does it not? Life is nothing and everything in life is meaningless. Perhaps there are a few things that can distract the mind and guard from the inadequacies of life, but in the end all fades away. Nothing lasts forever. While all the somethings are dying and fading, nothing is still there. Sure, one can search for meaning and think happy thoughts, but throughout the struggle everyone is alone and slowly spiraling down the path to despair. In “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” Hemingway uses the concept of nada, characterization, and the setting to emphasize the idea of human life being full of nothing. To understand the story, one must understand that nothing is actually something (Benson 24). Hemingway substitutes the …show more content…

The story is concerned with “age, death, despair, love, the boredom of life, two elderly men seeking sleep and forgetfulness, cast into an hour and a place whose silence and emptiness creates a sad mood in which patience and futility feebly strive with one another” (O’Faolain 24). Why does the old man attempt suicide? “He was in despair. What about? Nothing” (Hemingway 1). The nothing that drives the man to kill himself is “the despair beyond plenty of money, the despair which makes a sleeplessness beyond insomnia, the despair felt by a man who hungers for the certainties and meaningfulness of a religious faith but who cannot find in his world a ground for that faith” (Warren 20). Through such hopelessness, Nada defeats all. Yet there are ways that one can fight off Nada. Each character within “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” acts with daily courage and without complaint (Benert 29) because each has found his own way to escape nothingness. The young waiter does not feel the effect of Nada, not yet at least, because he is materialistic and blind to the woes of life (Bache 22). His possessions, youth, and confidence are but illusions and self-centeredness, the enemies of meaning (Benson 25). He realizes the problems of others but does not care as when he describes the old man as “lonely. I’m not lonely” (Hemingway 2). Yet his sorrows will come, as made obvious by the old waiter’s joke of the young waiter’s

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