A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
The Old Man
You're no doubt thinking that we're off our collective rocker over here at Shmoop HQ. After all, what kind of a mentor is an old man who spends his time getting drunk in cafés and has recently attempted suicide? However, as always, we have our reasons. While the old man is seen as pathetic and useless through the eyes of the younger waiter, the older waiter is sympathetic to him, and bears him a certain respect. This stems from their similarities; the older waiter recognizes that he might be the old man himself someday soon, getting drunk in a café and feeling there's nothing left to live for. We can detect some admiration in his tone when he says, "This old man is clean. He drinks without spilling. Even now, drunk" (9). Even if the Old Man has lost pretty much everything, he still has his dignity.