The famous short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" by Ernest Hemingway tells of an old man who sits late at a cafe drinking brandy and the two waiters who serve him. One of the waiters is young and impatient to get home to his wife. The other waiter is older and sympathizes with the old man in his loneliness. The story is told in Hemingway's minimalist style, in which much is implied but not directly stated. We don't know the names of the characters, for instance, or their backgrounds.
Some clues throughout the story help us understand the significance of the title. In the beginning, when the waiters are talking together, we learn that the old man tried to kill himself in despair. When one waiter asks why, the other says it was over nothing. Later, after the old man has left, the older waiter parodies the "Our Father" prayer by substituting "nothing" for most of the words.
The old man once had a wife but doesn't have one anymore. Apart from his loneliness, he probably feels useless, and...
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