What are the similarities between Old Man and the Sea and A Clean Well Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway?i need to compare and contrast so what are some significant comparisons between the 2 storys?

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some very marked contrasts exist between The Old Man and the Sea and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" by Ernest Hemingway.

Santiago, in The Old Man and Sea, is characterized by hope. He hopes to catch the big marlin even though it has been over eighty days since his last catch. He faces life bravely, and even though the marlin is eaten by the sharks, Santiago remains undefeated. He is a Christian character and asks God for help during his battle with the big fish. Santiago is the Hemingway hero who illustrates grace under pressure. That is, even though he fights the marlin and eventually loses it, he remains calm and undefeated even in the light of what appears to be failure.

On the other hand, the old man in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," has given up hope. In fact, he has attempted suicide. Like Santiago, he no longer has a wife and is alone except for his niece. He spends his nights drinking in an attempt to escape his solitude, and he is characterized by defeat. His only companions are the two waiters who are paid to serve him. The older waiter understands the old man's need for a clean, well-lighted cafe. The younger waiter has a wife and wants to go home to her, having no patience for the old man. Unlike Santiago, the old man's life is filled with the darkness of nothingness.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both men live alone; they have no living wives.  The old man in the Well Lighted Place, according to the old waiter, is a widower, and he drinks there alone, out of despair.  Santiago is also a widower, but he has a daughter who checks in on him from time to time.

Both men are on the opposite ends of heroism.  The old man in the Well Lighted Place is a heroic drunk, while Santiago is a heroic fisherman and a Christ-figure.  He even has a disciple: Manolin.

Both men suffer quietly.  The old man in the Well Lighted Place suffers quietly, neatly, hardly spilling a drop of his drink, symbolic of his resignation and angst.  Santiago also suffers alone on the boat, trying to fend off the sharks in order to save his prized marlin.

Both men confront the unknowable.  The waiters in the Well Lighted Place speak of "nada"--nothing and nothingness.  This is the existentialism of Sartre, who found existence in a Godless universe problematic.  Santiago likewise attempts to fathom the depths of the sea, and his brother marlin rises from its majestic depths only to be devoured by sharks.

edumacated | Student

the old man in A Clean Well Lighted Place isnt the main character though, the depressed waiter is.

-i may be a little late with this post...

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The Old Man and the Sea

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