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Clean Well-Lighted Places

Loneliness is a horrid feeling which nobody can not escape from regardless the age or the surroundings. In the story “Clean, Well- Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway it seems absolutely impossible to get rid of this terrifying feeling and the characters face loneliness in their own ways, but the youngest is not capable to admit to be influenced by solitude. Also, in the article “Loneliness – deficit openness in the situation changed” by A. G. Gizatulina the issue of loneliness becomes even more horrifying due to its growth, however denying it at the younger age.

Finally, from my experience my former neighbor is a perfect example of coping with her loneliness finding her neat a quiet place. The story, the article and the neighbor demonstrate the complexity of dealing with loneliness indicating that it has aging stages and often is a part of growing up. The old man in “Clean, Well- Lighted Place” is a first example of a completely lonely person who seeks silence of the night in a peaceful place being reluctant to go home.

Therefore, the older waiter sympathizes him explaining “He stays up because he likes it” (Hemingway 2), which sounds more than supporting because the older waiter knows that one day he will definitely become the old man in despair. According to the older waiter life is “full of nothing” (4) that follows and pesters people. He tries to persuade the younger waiter that having a drink in a cafe on your own is “not the same” (3) as going to unpleasant bodegas, however, the younger waiter fails to understand the difference.

Moreover, he has little compassion of lonely people demonstrating a dismissive attitude toward human life saying “he should have killed himself” (2). So eager was he hurrying home that he has no time for sympathy. His rush home indicates his incapability to admit his own loneliness, which is not as noticeable at his age as both the older waiter and the old man, because he has “youth, confidence, and a job”(4). In contrast, the older waiter states that the cafe is a refuge for those who are lonely and “need a light for the night” (p. 4).

He believes that the cafe is a shelter for people in despair and makes every effort not to close the cafe in case “there may be some one who needs the cafe”(4) open late. Hemingway was a genius! Creating his characters he emphasized that loneliness follows them in any stages of their lives, but only the deaf old man “could feel the difference” (1). After thorough search for the article connected with this story I came across Herald of Tomsk University and the article “Loneliness – deficit openness in the situation changes” by A. G. Gizatulina that fits perfectly the main characters of the story.

She gives the chain of changes that Hemingway depicted clearly in different ages of his characters: social isolation- anxiety- adolescent loneliness- depression. To Gazatulina’s mind we have a naive attitude that loneliness is rare among youth, however, “this stereotype does not correspond to reality” (136) just as the younger waiter can not wait to go home to his wife because according to Gizatulina “loneliness includes the search for identity establishing links with the opposite sex” (136). Loneliness in youth “leads to rebellious attitude” (137) and therefore the younger waiter refuses to give another drink to the old man.

Adolescence assume mental changes” (137) that can be apply to the older waiter as well as to the old man because their alienation is more noticeable, which results in “a wiliness to be one on one with work, his life, his deeds” (137). The author is so right! It explains why the older waiter is engrossed in his work and the old man seeks peace and quiet in alcohol. Gizatulina is convinced that “Loneliness in adolescence and youth widespread and probably growing on its severity phenomenon” (136) and this is a threatening message for us.

I used to have a neighbor who I can associate with the older waiter from the story. She was in her 60th and she lived alone. She was not married, her son left her and she had no pets and no job. So, she need have found something to be engrossed in so that she would not feel lonely. What you should know is that elder people in my country, Ukraine, are not into using advanced methods, instead they do things in their own way because this is something they are used to doing and, moreover, they believe that is the only right thing to do so.

Imagine, this woman wakes up at dawn, goes outside and starts polishing her pans, baking trays and frying pans by rubbing them with sand because she is convinced that is the best way of getting rid of soot from the dishes. Can you imagine the sound? Once I woke up at 5 a. m. , went out because of the terrible noise she was making and asked her “What are you doing in such early time? “. To my surprise, she answered “It is so nice to polish the pans at dawn.

Nobody disturbs you and you can feel the silence”. “The silence? “, I thought, but after reading “Clean Well-Lighted Place” I realized that her patio during the sun rise was her lighted place and was cleaning her pans perfectly because someone needed them as the older waiter cared about polishing the coffee machine. Despite all scientific researchers, loneliness is not something can be fully understood. It is impossible to predict people’s behavior when solitude gets intense. Neither youth or money, which the old man has, is enough to banish despair.

An overwhelming feeling of being separated from those around you is a normal emotion and coping with it people choose different ways- pouring brandy into a glass, engrossing in work, polishing pans or hurrying home. But, here comes a surprise! Somehow in the story we can notice the magic light – ” a clean well-lighted cafe” (Hemingway 5), “the street light shone on the brass number” (1) and “a shining… coffee machine” (5). So, maybe there is a way out? Hemingway did not tell us the answer. I leave it for you to find out.

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