Symbols and Symbolism in A Clean Well-Lighted Place, By Hemingway

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Symbolism in A Clean Well-Lighted Place

Symbolism, may be defined as a non-superficial representation of an idea or belief that goes beyond what is "seen." Earnest Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" uses symbolism to help convey the theme of Nihilism, the philosophy that there is nothing heavenly to believe in. It discusses that there is no supernatural reason or explanation of how the world is today. Three symbols: the soldier, the café, and the shadows of the leaves, found in Hemingway's short story clearly displays this Nihilistic theme.

The first clear display of Nihilism by the use of symbols is the brief passage description of the soldier passing the café with the prostitute. This imagery
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The light is supposed to let the reader see that the guard is corrupt when he should be a loyal and an example to the community.

Hemingway's second portrayal of symbolism that a reader may distinguish is the café itself. The café represents a sanctuary of the evilness of the world. The namesake of the short story is a clue for the reader to see that the café would represent some form of an asylum not only from the elements of nature, but also safety from evil. An example of the usefulness of this sanctuary is how the deaf old man uses the café as a safe-haven to be to himself after the incident where he almost succeeded in committing suicide and enjoys the comfort the café gives. The old waiter represents in the café the kindness and caring that the café should provide; whereas the younger waiter is more of a materialistic character. He clearly displays shallowness and selfishness. Arthur Waldhorn writes that the older waiter helps keep the light on a little longer at the café for those, who like himself, 'do not want to go to bed.' (P 28) The younger waiter is a protagonist in attitude of the older waiter. The philosophy of Nihilism is brought into this theme when the older man recites the Lord's Prayer but substitutes the word "nada" for every noun in it. Nihilism is brought onto a larger scale because it is very evident that there is nothing to believe in, even as a
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