Professor Martha Kinkade
8 September 2013
Throughout a Lifetime An individual’s perspective on life changes throughout a lifetime, on this roller coaster we call life, experiences, maturity, and growing up is the cause of the way we view and handle different situations. Throughout the story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” by Ernest Hemingway the reader is given the opportunity to learn about three characters who symbolize young adulthood, middle adulthood and late adulthood and how each individual views and handles life. This allows us to recognize an individual’s perspective of life in the three different stages. In the beginning of this story, the narrator sets the stage; however, soon the focus shifts into mainly a dialogue piece that provides insights into two waiters and their late-night customer. Drunk, deaf and lonely simply described this elderly man. He is characterized as a wealthy man but throughout his struggles in life that didn’t matter to him, that was simply a material item in his eyes. The narrator stated in the short story that he went as far as trying to take away his own life because of all his battles he had been struggling with but was saved by his niece. Losing his wife was one of those struggles and being deaf was another. Spending his nights in this café drinking brandy’s one after another was how he kept himself sane but it was becoming way too familiar especially for the two waiters that work at this café. There is a younger waiter and an older waiter throughout this story. They are very different from each other, maybe because they are in such different phases of their lives. The younger waiter comes off as selfish, impatient and heartless. During the story, he was so annoyed by this older man as if he was doing something completely out of the ordinary. The younger waiter greeted this older man with a cold and insensitive, “What do you want” (164)? for no necessary reasoning. Then becomes angrier and angrier as the older man keeps demanding a brandy one right after the other. The young waiter is so concerned about going home to his wife that he never stops to think why the older man is the way he is, why he spends his nights drinking his life away or if he could make him feel better in any possible way. The young waiter states, “He’s lonely, I’m not lonely. I have a wife waiting in bed for me. (166)” That clearly shows that this young waiter knows the older man’s circumstance but it doesn’t even phase him that this café could be the only place he has to go to to feel some type of comfort. The older man tried taking his life away just a week ago; this café could be the only thing saving him from doing it again. With this simple statement, “I wouldn’t want to be old. An old man is a nasty thing. (166)” The young waiter is obviously so caught up on his life that he doesn’t realize that he himself will be old and maybe in the same position as the old man one day.
The older waiter on the other hand, is completely different from the younger waiter, he is more patient and understanding with the older man then the young waiter ever was. Even though the older man seems to be at the café countless times the older waiter was never in a hurry to just kick him out of the café even when it was getting close…