"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" by Ernest Hemingway was first published in the March 1933 issue of Scribner’s Magazine. It has three characters, an older waiter, a younger waiter, and a customer, who is an old man. The old man is deaf and apparently relatively wealthy (at least compared to the waiters.) The old man is sitting, drinking brandy, in a cafe, and the younger waiter wishes to go home.
The first theme of the story is loneliness. Both the older waiter and the old man appreciate the cafe because it provide a "clean, well-lighted place" to drink and hang out, providing an illusion of company, unlike their own homes, where they feel their loneliness more acutely. Although the younger waiter wants to go home to his wife, the older waiter, who is unmarried (perhaps a widower like the old man), understands how the old man would not wish to go home to an empty house.
The second theme of the story is old age. Both the old man and the waiter are confronted with trying to make meaning from life as they gradually lose the things that make life meaningful and move closer to death. The old man has tried to commit suicide by hanging himself but was cut down by his niece.
The final theme is that of the existential crisis faced by people who neither sincerely believe in religion nor have strong social networks or other values. This is exemplified by the old waiter trying to say the Lord's Prayer, but what comes out is only a litany of nothingness:
Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada ...