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A Critical Analysis of Hemingway's A Clean, Well-lighted Place - Essay Example

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Like in a battle, we are warriors who try to live and fight for different reasons and purposes, and for most of the warriors, as they get weary and old, they usually back off for a moment and find a clean, well-lighted place…
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A Critical Analysis of Hemingways A Clean, Well-lighted Place
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"A Critical Analysis of Hemingway's A Clean, Well-lighted Place"

Download file to see previous pages Ernest Hemingway’s 1954 Nobel Prize winner “A Clean, Well-lighted Place” effectively illustrates human beings’ different answers of the mostly asked question: “What is the meaning of life?” From toddlerhood to late adulthood, as people grow mature, their response to this question gets influenced with their life’s experiences whether good or bad. They either turn out to be hopeful amidst life adversities or become cynical of life’s real meaning. In a much closer look, Hemingway’s work undoubtedly reflects his own experiences (Ernest Hemingway). He himself has committed suicide in the year 1961(Redouane, Abouddahab, 2). And as a result, most critical analyses of his works become mostly biographical in nature. Hemingway’s work undoubtedly reflects a considerable amount of his life’s experiences as a soldier, writer, and reporter. It can be also noted that most of the criticism of Hemingway’s works is ideologically based and is greatly influenced by the accumulated facts about his life and work. His works usually present male personas whose characters evolve around the themes on “losing hope and faith” (Ernest Hemingway). This short story “A Clean, Well-lighted Place” somehow progresses on the same theme: of losing hope and faith to live, and of nursing the moments of despair to finding that something that will push one to continue living. These themes were well illustrated by three characters of different walks of life, three people who see life in different perspectives: the young waiter, the old waiter and the old-drunk man. They have different stories to tell and only in the clean, well-lighted cafe that their mind-sets get exposed to the readers’ critical scrutiny. In Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory, he pointed out that in each stage of a person’s life one experiences psychosocial crisis represented by two opposing dispositions also termed by Erickson as “contrary dispositions”. If one can successfully manage each stage, he/she can get through the rest of the stages. On the other hand, If one failed, he may develop “reduced ability to complete further stages” (Saul McLeod). In relation to this, the young waiter represents those in the young adulthood stage, the sixth stage of Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory of Human Development, who views life with much positivity and idealism while the old-drunk man and the old waiter who sympathizes with the former represent those in the late adulthood stage, the last stage of Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory. They are the ones who are caught between developing ego integrity and wallowing up the feeling of despair. The story, set in a clean, well-lighted cafe somewhere in Spain, opens with an old man drinking brandy and sitting on his favourite spot in the cafe, “in the shadow of the leaves of the tree made against the electric light”. The two waiters in the cafe were talking about the old-drunk man as he drowns himself with his liquor. Their conversation wound up with the latter’s attempted suicide to the significance of a clean, well-lighted cafe of which young waiter finds no difference with other bars and bodegas. The young waiter who seems oblivious of the old-drunk man’s personal issues finds the attempt ridiculous because for him the latter “has plenty of money” and that there’s no reason why should the old man try to end his life. On one hand, the old waiter feels what the old man was exactly feeling as he understands what “it” feels like. He confesses that, he himself needs a clean, well-lighted place once in a while. As the story progresses, the young and old waiter, both representations of two different generations, demonstrate the different worldviews ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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