How can you comment on character in a critical analysis of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"?
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" was considered, the best of the stories in his collection, Winner Take Nothing in 1933.
Winner Take Nothing wasn't well received by the critics, in terms of subject matter, who called it bitter and depressing. An interpretation of the significance of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” was, at the time, agreed upon by critics as “dumb ox” fiction. One of his contemporaries, Wyndham Lewis, in an essay entitled “The Dumb Ox: A Study of Ernest Hemingway” referred to Heminway's characters in this collection as dumb. Lewis thought of the characters in this volume as not worthing of story material. Even Frank O’Conner, a writer who admired Heminway said, “I.. .ask myself if this wonderful technique of Hemingway’s is really a technique in search of a subject or technique that is carefully avoiding a subject, and searching anxiously all the time for a clean well-lighted place where all the difficulties of human life can be comfortably ignored.”
People who love Heminway and citics who think he was a very serious talent say that "A Clean Well_lighted Place" expresses the doctrines of existentialism. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, were two major proponents of the philosophy and claim that existentialist characters act with dignity and grace in a basically valueless or absurd world. William Bennett--a philosopher-- highlighted this short story in a book on existentialism entitled Irrational Man. In addition Warren Bennett’s in “Character, Irony, and Resolution in ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’", says Hemingway's characters' exhibit despair in the story which “is a negation, a lack.... [a] lack of life after death, [a] lack of a moral order governing the universe, [and a] lack of trustworthy interpersonal relations.”
The characters in this story can be best understood from an existential point-of-reference. What this means is even though their reactions are underplayed, in each scene, it is within the context of their belief in an existential world.
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