Explain the follwing quote from "A Clean, Well Lighted Place":  "We are of two different kinds."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two waiters of Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" converse after the old man has been told by the younger waiter that he must go home.  This younger waiter is eager to go home to his wife, but the old man has wanted to stay, and the older waiter understands why; hence he tells the younger man, "We are of two different kinds."  For, while the younger waiter is eager to close the cafe, the older waiter is reluctant "because there may be some one who needs a cafe." Like those who need the light, the older waiter has stared into the Nada.

The younger waiter is unconcerned that anyone would need a clean, well-lighted place such as the cafe because he has youth and confidence; he does not yet sense the void that life brings as one grows older. For, once the excitements of youth have passed, there comes, then,

a nothing that he (the older waiter) knew too well.  It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too.

Only routine makes life predictable and gives it meaning.  Only a clean, well-lighted place gives comfort to the darkness and nothingness and aloneness that overcomes a person. Not even prayer helps.

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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

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