The old man is drowning his sorrows in drink, and his sorrows grow out of loneliness, if we are to believe the old waiter (the old man lives alone, his wife now dead). However, lest this turning to drink be interpreted as weakness, the author is careful to depict the old man as being punctiliously neat and controlled in his despair. He does not, after all, spill a drop. Rather, the old man is a heroic drunk, one whose pursuit of oblivion is depicted as a reasonable, even noble course of action in a world which can be too much for certain souls to withstand. Where the younger waiter seems to feel not enough, this man seems to feel too much.
The older waiter, in contrast to the selfish younger one, is a sympathetic man. He knows the old man’s history and identifies with it. Like the old man, the old waiter is lonely, a little sad, and he takes pleasure in a quiet public place. The old waiter is not, however, as desperate as the old man is. He seems to endure his loneliness with a certain objectivity, realizing that although he is alone, he is not alone in suffering. The older waiter seems wise and resigned.
Set against the two mild and weary older men, the younger waiter’s personality seems acerbic, even cruel. We learn about an unspoken rule of service which dictates that a cafe only close when the last customer leaves voluntarily, and never...
(The entire section is 349 words.)