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Two Unique Mindsets of Being Alone

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Two Unique Mindsets of Being Alone
Loneliness is a complicated and normally an unpleasant emotional response to isolation or lack of companionship. In the stories The Old Man and the Sea and “A Clean, Well- lighted Place”, Ernest Hemingway conveys the idea of loneliness and its corresponding effects. Characters from each text are alone in unique ways; Santiago is a elderly man who, although fishing alone, does not despair in his loneliness. In spite of the fact that he is in solitude, he does not mind being alone. Whereas the deaf man and the waiter attempt to find a way to avoid their loneliness by looking for a place to be so that they are not alone. While many elderly may be alone it does not necessarily mean they are lonely.
In the novel The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago is an old man who fishes alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream. He is a widow who has no family and does not have much. Santiago has only one human companion, but in his opinion the sea creatures are his friends. Santiago finds it easy to relate to the fish when he reflects on the fish’s choice of staying far away from everything, “His choice had been to stay in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares and traps and treacheries. My choice was to go there to find him beyond all people. Beyond all people in the world. Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And no one to help either one of us” (Hemingway 50). Santiago’s solitude extends to the fish; they are in isolation from the rest of the world, but together because of it. Santiago isolates himself on purpose, because he is comfortable with only the company of the sea creatures instead of people. He feels at ease being alone and even says, “If the others heard me talking out loud they would think that I am crazy. But since I am not, I do not care” (36). He would much rather be by himself than around people that do not matter to him, this way he is free to be himself. He accepts the fact that he is alone and does not feel the need to search for a companion. In the short story “A Clean -Well Lighted Place” there are two characters who are also in solitude however are lonely. One of these characters is a deaf man who, is in despair, comes into the well-lighted cafe every night. He suffers from loneliness so strong that he no longer values his own life, “Last week he tried to commit suicide” (Hemingway 1). One of the waiters claims that he has plenty of money and questions why he would be in such daunting despair. However, no amount of money can replace the pain he is feeling. The reason he comes to the cafe every night is simply because he cannot bear to be alone. Being solitary with his thoughts is where he feels the loneliest and the most weak, that is why he tried to end his life. The older waiter in the story can relate to the deaf man as he too suffers from loneliness. He makes a comment to the younger waiter towards the end of the story revealing his own loneliness, “‘Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be someone who needs the cafe’” (3). Until this point the deaf man seems to be the only one who wants to stay at the cafe, however, the older waiter needs it as well. The two men need the cafe just as much as the other, because, like the deaf man, the older waiter needs a place to sit and wait out the night. While the younger waiter is eager to get home; the older waiter leaves the cafe, once again displaced and alone.
Not having a companion may lead someone to be lonely, but loneliness can be related to other aspects of life; so being alone does not always mean lonely. An individual who is comfortable with being alone shows strong character. As seen in both texts individuals cope with being alone in different ways. Some are content with being on their own, like Santiago, because they are comfortable in solitary. They do not need the companionship of others but need the stability of nature and its constant being around them. The other two characters constantly seek company by going to busy places so that they are not alone with their thoughts. They need distractions to keep their minds off the one thing that haunts them the most: being alone. The elderly either try to deal with their loneliness, or face the fact that they are alone but do not feel lonely.

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