A Clean, Well Lighted Place is a story of lights and shadows, of the coexistenceof ”being” and ”nothingness”. An old man sits outside the cafe, on theterrace, where all the tables are empty except then one he sits at. He hideshimself in the shadow – the perfect hiding-place, a hide-out for a person whowants to remain invisible and unnoticed to the people he observes. They – theobserved ones – do not even feel his presence, so close and tangible, althoughthere are some who know all about him.
The undisturbed and untroubled peaceof night is his ”prime time”. He feels the difference then. To a deaf personsilence of the night brings relief and consolation after the day full of”noise”. That relief he encounters in the shadow, under the tree, the leafs ofwhich protects him from the electric light, although he is one of these strangepeople who feel the strong need of light in the night. The ill-will andaversion of one of the waiters towards the old man and, on the other hand, themercy and sympathy of the other is the picture how shadow and lightinterpenetrate each other, although they stand out for completely oppositevalues.
The younger of these two has a wife waiting in bed for him, and is notvery willing to stay in the cafe through the whole night, waiting until the lastperson pays the bill and goes home. That is why he is so upset with the old man,who – being already drunk – asks for another and another drink. The hour is whatmatters to him. He wants to go home, to “hide in the shadow” and tofind some kind of peace of mind. In this way he seems to resemble the old man -they both avoid light, for both of them the shadow has got more to do with theirlives than light. The older waiter appears to be the one who assumes a morefriendly attitude towards those people who stay late at the cafe. His deepconviction that there are some who need a light for the night is so strong thatit does not allow him to close up early enough because there may be some one whoneeds the cafe each night. And the fact that there are bodegas (basements) openall night does not influence his way of thinking.
This is this cafe that is soattractive to people for it is clean and pleasant. And – what is probably moreimportant – it is well lighted. All such a cafe needs is light. But he alsomentions shadows of the leaves – the shapes created by light – by which hepotentially means the place hidden in the shadow, a shelter for all those whoneed light in the night but observe it being covered by shadow. Light is”being” while shadow is “nothingness”. Those who needs lightare “alive” ones. Those living in the shadow lock themselves in”nothingness”, their escape from the reality. An old man is a mixtureof both. On one hand he stays “alive” late at night sitting in theplace full of light but on the other he secludes himself in”nothingness” since he prefers sitting in the shadow, hidden, coveredand theoretically absent. For the older waiter the reason for staying late atthe cafe and the fact that he does not feel like sleeping, though it is almostdawn, is as simple as illness. At the end of the story he says to himself:”After all ( …) it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it”. Theconclusion that as a matter of fact the whole story is about nothing butsuffering from the particular disease.
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Clean Well Lighted Place Essay. (2019, Apr 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/clean-well-lighted-place-essay/