Isolation and Loneliness in Hemingways A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean and Well-Lighted Place" emphasizes isolation between two characters. The narrative demonstrates how the world is insignificant and full of nothingness. Loneliness is the central idea because it's depicting the hardships the characters are experiencing.

Loneliness is exemplified throughout the narrative from the old man and the old waiter. We first see loneliness in the old man perspective by this quote from the young waiter. "Last week he tried to commit suicide" (Hemingway 1). His attempt for suicide portrays characteristics of loneliness and depression.

Furthermore, the old man appears to bear a loss which could not be explained by him. The old man exhibits traits of helplessness along with signs of emptiness moments in his life. Additionally, we encounter a situation in which the young waiter couldn't empathize towards the old man. The young waiter states "I'm not lonely. I have a wife waiting in bed for me. He had a wife once too. A wife would be no good to him now.

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You can't tell. He might be better with a wife"(Hemingway 3). This event shows the concept of loneliness is not observed in the young waiter. However, the young waiter hasn't experienced the type of loneliness the old man was facing. Essentially, the young waiter is considered privileged for not undergoing the situation the old man was bearing. We first see evidence of loneliness from the old waiter when he watches the old man leaving the café by this quote "The waiter watched him go down the street, a very old man walking unsteadily but with dignity" (Hemingway 4).

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Despite being drunk at a cafe, it shows morality in his personality because the old man would rather be in a welcoming environment to prevent his loneliness.

The concept of realism is presented heavily towards the old waiter's character because he evidently foreshadows the old mans. According to the text, he compares himself to the young waiter by mentioning what the young waiter has accomplished. The old waiter states "You have youth, confidence, and a job," the older waiter said. "You have everything"(Hemingway 4). Realism is addressing the old waiter because he's insinuating the young waiter is privileged and not realizing what true loneliness is. Consequently, the old waiter believes there is something missing that is somewhat internal towards him. Additionally, loneliness is emphasized when the old waiter says the Lord's prayer but improvised. The old waiter states "Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee"(Hemingway 5). The old waiter believes that religion is absurd and meaningless by replacing some words with “nada”. This shows his lack of religion and conveys his stage of loneliness very well.

"A Clean and Well-Lighted Place" illustrates the idea of isolation from the world. The old man and the old waiter were in stages of solitude for recollecting their lives. Every individual has suffered some type of isolation. Perhaps, this isolation is endured more than losing someone or something. Additionally, it recreates the idea of true loneliness.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Isolation and Loneliness in Hemingways A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. (2022, Apr 23). Retrieved from

Isolation and Loneliness in Hemingways A Clean, Well-Lighted Place essay
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