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In the story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," how is the setting related to the theme?

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paulbond | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 3, 2009 at 2:18 AM via web

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In the story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," how is the setting related to the theme?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 3, 2009 at 3:56 AM (Answer #1)

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Like the old man who craves a well-lighted bar at which to drink, the older waiter of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" by Ernest Hemingway, desires to keep the care open, providing a light.  In fact, after the cafe closes, seeks another lighted place, for anywhere that is lighted is preferable to the darkness of aloneness and "nada."

Thus, the setting of Hemingway's story is essential to the theme of the nothingness (nada) of life where the lack of spiritual faith leaves an empty promise, something to be endured while it lasts (the lighted place) because nothing more awaits before it ends.  Indeed, this story's setting is most relevant to Hemingway's motif of nihilism, the "nada."

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