Ac Writing Period 3
A Clean Well-Lighted Life
In the short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" Ernest Hemingway was using his prose to illustrate his own life, in that he was the old man as well as the senior waiter. Hemingway uses the characters' drinking problem to illustrate his own drinking problem. Hemingway also shows his fear of the dark and his struggles with insomnia. Pride and dignity, which Hemingway believes to be very important, are also themes of the short story. Hemingway also uses the senior waiter to show his own personal obsession and fear of nothingness, or nada. As a final insight into Ernest Hemingway's own life he, in a way, foreshadows his own death by suicide. Hemingway wrote only what he knew, and what he knew was himself.
Throughout Hemingway's life he has always had an underlying problem with alcohol. This alcoholism shows through in many of Hemingway's novels and short stories, but especially in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." The "old man" from the story is in a bar late at night while two of the bar's employees watch and discuss him. The story implies that the old man gets drunk every night to forget his problems. This applies directly to the life of Hemingway because he also drank a lot to try and get away from his problems. "Like the old man in the story, he stayed drunk most of the time, which, no doubt contributed to his demise (Schafer 1). Near the end of the story, after the first bar closes, the senior waiter goes to another bar to drink away his problems as well, much like Hemingway. Hemingway applied events from his own life into both the old man and the senior waiter. Hemingway did this because he believed in writing what he knew and what was true to him. Hemingway once said, "The writer's job is to tell the truth," (Schafer 2).
The title, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" describes the setting of the story: a small, clean, quiet, well-lighted bar. The lighting is stressed throughout the story...