A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

by Ernest Hemingway

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Explain to me "Unknowable and Nothingness." Explain to me unknowable and nothingness, and relate these to solidarity.

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In Hemingway's brief but intense story, solidarity is found in physical objects (the bar, the drink), routine (coming there regularly), and the presence of others. The void that erupts into the character's consciousness is an existential one: he experiences a hole at the center of his psyche, and how unknowable the meaning of life/the nature of existence is. Put another way, the physical world is solid, but god/spirit is absent.


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