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The title of Ernest Hemingway's short story, "A Clean Well-Lighted Place," on the surface refers to the old man's preference of the night life available in the town. Unlike the younger waiter, who likes the more lively atmosphere of noisy bars and bodegas, the old man seeks out a quiet, "clean well-lighted place" to spend his lonely evenings. He does not seek out friendship or excitement, but instead prefers the solitude of the cafe he frequents. He is not alone. The older waiter also likes such places, for he too is a lonely man who "does not want to go to bed... who need(s) a light for the night." Hemingway uses the title to suggest the solidarity evident between the older waiter and the old man; the darkness outside also symbolizes an evil or unknown element. Their lost youth has left both of them lacking in confidence and a void in their souls, and they both seek out the "well-lighted places" to while away the night. The older waiter will eventually return home to his bed, staying awake until light comes once again, when he can peacefully find a bit of sleep.
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