A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

by Ernest Hemingway

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Topics for Discussion

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1. What are some the things that have happened in your life that have made you feel lonely? How have you alleviated this loneliness?

2. What is the significance of the cafe to the older waiter's life?

3. What is the significance of the cafe to the younger waiter's life?

4. Characterize the older waiter. Do you feel any sense of compassion for him? Why or why not?

5. What is the significance of the older waiter's speech about "nada," or "nothing?"

6. Characterize the younger waiter. Do you think that the younger waiter had good reasons for wanting to leave the cafe?

7. Explain how Hemingway uses his characters to define one another.

8. How would you describe the importance of community to these characters?

9. How are the metaphors of cleanliness and light—the cleanliness and brightness of the cafe—important to the story?

10. What are some ways Hemingway uses to infuse the story with humor?

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