Since Time Immemorial, Humankind Has Gazed Upwards At The

Good Essays

Since time immemorial, humankind has gazed upwards at the canopy of the heavens and pondered humanity’s significance, questioning the meaning of life. Being but mere specks of dust on the canvas upon which the universe paints its portrait of all existence, do we even matter? Are our lives meaningless? Hemingway’s notably minimalistic short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” offers an opinion on this rather heady subject matter, presenting its perspective in the guise of the story’s theme. However, Hemingway’s story divulges its conclusion slowly, taking the reader on a brief yet startlingly deep journey in the process. Indeed, despite measuring less than 1,500 words in length, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” covers significant philosophical …show more content…

Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee. (161) Upon reading this internal monologue, one’s natural inclination may be to dismiss the older waiter, and perhaps by extension Hemingway, as merely depressed, or lonely, or haunted by some unspoken tragedy. However, such an interpretation of the above passage, and thus the story’s theme, would be an egregious oversimplification. Instead, it would be far more accurate to regard the older waiter’s worldview as something akin to existential nihilism, which is the belief that, essentially, life has no intrinsic meaning, that humanity’s very existence means nada. And as one comes to this realization, one truly grasps the theme of life’s meaninglessness that “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” exhibits. Though not possessed of the same potency as the story’s narration, another significant tool Hemingway employs in constructing the theme of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is symbolism. Symbolism, which commonly consists of concrete objects alluding to abstract notions (Kennedy and Gioia 202), manifests itself in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” in the form of “clean and pleasant” cafés and the night-time hours during which they are frequented (Hemingway 161). In Hemingway’s story, the titular “clean, well-lighted

Get Access