The Importance of Setting in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway

Category: Fiction, Insomnia
Last Updated: 24 Nov 2022
Pages: 4 Views: 178

Setting is simply defined as the time and area in which a story is to unfold, In "A Clean, Well- Lighted Place," setting performs such a huge pan that it is also the title of the story. Throughout "A Clean, WellrLighted Place," setting plays a large role in character development, realization. and interaction and also contributes a great deal to the overall mood of the atmosphere and nature of the plot. Beginning With the first sentence it is evtdent that the author, Ernest Hemingway, has attempted to conjure a VIVICl image In which the reader can View the scenes With great accuracy. and in the Way he intended them to be seen. Hemingway still leaves much to the readers imagination, but takes care to design the setting with enough detail that one can create a precise description of the locale on their Own.

Hemingway writes. "It was late and everyone had left the caf except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference (141). He quickly establishes the fact that it late at night and most people have either fallen asleep or have at least headed home for the night. From this one sentence it is also eVident that the caf is lit by an electric light that is bright enough to casts a crisp shadow over the last, lonely occupant of the establishment. One old man was remaining at the cat and was keeping the two late night employees from closmg up.

The old man is deaf and it is noted that he takes pleasure in the late hours at the caf because he can escape the rushing crowds of the daytime and relax in the silence of the night. The last employees left at the caf were two waiters who discussed the old man and his current state. "The two waiters inside the caf knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him" (141). The waiters' views of the old man and his depression are displayed to the reader by the old man‘s drinking as well as the night time setting and lonely atmosphere, The younger waiter walked over to the young man as he rapped on the saucer with his glass.

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The younger waiter reluctantly served the old man another brandy and returned to talk With the older waiter. Hemingway begins to create an air of tension which the younger Waiter focuses at the aging customers. "You should have killed yourself last week," said the younger waiter as the old man motioned for the glass to be filled further (142). "I wish he would go home. I never get to bed before three o'clock. What kind of hour is that to go to bed?" (143). It is becoming late and the young waiter is growing restless. The night has grown darker and it seems the old man will never leave, The older waiter. however, sees the despair in the man's eyes and seems to associate With his pain, But the younger waiter had grown more impatient and was becoming greatly displeased with the old man's stay.

By now it was veiy late and the younger Waiter made the old man leave. With this, the older waiter seemed upset and asked his partner Why he did it. The young man simply stated that it was too late to be out and that the old man can find another place to stay and drink. Soon they had closed the caf and the two waiters went their separate ways. Hemingway's tale follows the older waiter to a bar where he stops to have a drink. The bartender there is also closmg up as well, but he sen/es the man anyway, The waiter quickly finishes his drink and heads home where he falls asleep after much difficulty. He thinks to himself, "It‘s probably only insomnia. Many must have it" (144). The waiters had two very different views of the late night hours.

The younger waiterwas eager to go home to sleep even at the expense of the old man's comfort. He feels the night is for sleeping, However. the older waiter is similar to the old man. He wants to stay awake and supply a comfortable, clean. bright area for all to come and stay. The older waiter has trouble sleeping at night and finds it easier to rest during the day. The setting has a different meaning for each character, but it develops a unified concept of loneliness and despair. The suicidal old man must find a place to stay, the old waiter will have another sleepless night, and the young waiter Will get to bed late again.

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The Importance of Setting in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway. (2022, Nov 24). Retrieved from

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