How would "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" change if the point of view was changed?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway's narration in this excellent story seems deliberately designed to be detached and removed from the story, offering little comment upon the action that occurs. The point of view is ostensibly third person omniscient, but we "see" little thanks to the narrator. Consider the description of the cafe, for example, which we know little about apart from the information that it is clean and well-lit. We are told little about the waiters and what they think or feel, and are left to judge them, and the story as a whole, by ourselves, without any ideas or pointers from the narrator. Such a detached and objective view is key to Hemingway's style, and places the burden of interpretation on the reader.

Changing the point of view by, for example, telling the story through the eyes of the older waiter would move this story from being profoundly impartial to profoundly partial. We would see so many things much more clearly and in more detail, but this would change the role of the reader from having to make a judgement about this tale and its characters as it would mean that our experience is impacted by the character of the waiter himself. This would profoundly impact the story and our conclusions of it.

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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

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