Please comment on the following quote from "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.""After all, he said to himself, it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it."

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is the highly significant way in which this excellent short story finishes. It is the older waiter who closes the story with this belief that he is not able to fall asleep because of insomnia. This of course draws attention to the important theme of loneliness and despair in this story. The tale presents us with despair as a human condition, but then suggests that this despair must be confronted in a state of isolation. The older waiter is clearly something of a parallel character compared to the old, drunk man, as he, too, likes to sit in cafes late at night, and so we can infer that he suffers from the same condition of loneliness. This last sentence represents his own self-deception, as he treats his sleeplessness as a result of insomnia rather than despair and loneliness, and implicitly reaches out for human companionship with the final sentence "Many must have it." He is not able to accept the true reason for his sleeplessness and finds comfort in his belief that others suffer from the same symptoms and are lonely as well.  It is likewise important to note that the older waiter goes "without leaving further," as if to stop himself going down any avenues of thought that would force him to acknowledge the despair and loneliness that he manages to conceal from himself.

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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

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