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A Clean Well-Lighted Place

In: English and Literature

Submitted By nick1092
Words 991
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In “A Clean and Well-Lighted Place” there isn’t much of a story. There isn’t a looming conflict that requires the attention of its characters, there’s really not even a protagonist and an antagonist, there’s just nothingness and how its characters relate to it. There are a mere three real characters in the entire story, the younger waiter, the older waiter, and an old man. The younger waiter and older waiter, and how they relate to that nothingness is the main theme of the story, with the old man being the subject of their conversations. While the younger waiter attacks the old man in his talk with the older waiter, the older waiter doesn’t attack the old man, instead he defends him, because he can sympathize with him. The older waiter knows loneliness and despair, which is what separates these two characters. The story opens with the two waiters speaking to one another about an old man who’s drinking brandy at the cafe which they work. It’s learned through the waiters’ conversation that the old man attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself but his niece cut him down. It’s said that she cut him down for “fear for his soul.” It was as though they don’t even care about his current life, but his life after death. The younger waiter cannot comprehend the reason for suicide when you have money, like the old man does. To the young waiter, money can and will solve all problems. The young waiter is incapable of comprehending the idea of committing suicide over the despair of confronting nothingness. The older waiter in stark contrast to the younger waiter; fully understands the old man’s point of view. Nothingness is what brings the old man to the clean and well-lighted café night after night to drink brandy until he is drunk. The older waiter understands this, and this is why he has no objection to the old man being at the café past closing. When...

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