“It was all nothing and a man was a nothing too”
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (1933), by Ernest Hemingway
The relationship between the three elements:
''Through the analysis of the three formal features: narration, characterization, and symbolization, it shows the author’s message that people of different ages have a different understanding of loneliness. When approaching an older age, people start to realize loneliness is inevitable. Due to personal circumstances, we will gradually lose our energy, dreams and hopes to lead a meaningful life that we once had when we were young. There is nothing left but loneliness and despair which we all try to escape in some way.''
This echoes closely to the plot of the story through the different attitudes and argument between the young and older waiters regarding the behavior of the old man. The young waiter sees the old man annoying while the older waiter sympathizes the old man as he sees his future. The old man sitting on an empty bench tells everything.
compared to different stages of life
- A third-person narrator who reports the happening in the café.
- The older waiter acts as a protagonist who sympathizes more about the feeling of the old man.
- The young waiter is an antagonist who dislikes the old man and wants him leaves early so that he can go home earlier with his wife.
Emptiness / shadow – Despair and loneliness. “the tables were all empty except where the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that moved slightly in the wind” (line 98-99).
Time / Job / Confidence – Meaning of life, have time to spend on something to care about. Never Lonely. ‘‘You have youth, confidence, and a job,’’ (line 98-99).
Young waiter – Young, First stage
- Had confidence, time and energy to do what he wanted, to risk and chase his dreams.
- Had a job, family, and friends. He was never lonely and did not have much to worry about.
- Worked hard to earn more money for a living.
Old man – Old, Final stage
- He had lots of time and some money, but his wife left and only with his niece. Loneliness was so painful and tried to commit suicide.
- A clean and quiet café to stay away from this horrible lonely world.
- Drunken almost every night to escape from the painful and hopeless despair.
Older waiter – Adult, Second stage
- Started to worry about his job. Not as energetic as before. Envied the young waiter "You have youth, confidence, and a job. You have everything" (line 98-99).
- He knew one day would be like the old man who needed a café to smooth the wound.
- The older waiter went to a bar after café closing, then went home to live with his “insomnia”.