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Analysis

Literary Devices in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The clean, well-lighted café of the story's title is its central image. This kind of café is a kind of idealized space; in it, even the loneliest, most despairing of men can find some kin...

Setting

The setting is key here, especially since we have very little else to go on. The café is – as you might imagine, clean. Oh yeah, and well-lighted. It's a pleasant café, and the ligh...

Narrator Point of View

We as readers have a privileged position here – Hemingway's omniscient third person narration allows us to see what's happening both inside and outside of the character's minds. We get hints...

Genre

Hemingway is something of an uneasy modernist. While he certainly broke through a lot of conventions, and dealt with some of the themes that we often associate with the genre of Modernism (post-WWI...

Tone

Hemingway was not exactly a fan of high drama; in fact, even some of his most thrilling and adventurous stories are told in his signature deadpan fashion. Sometimes this is funny – heck, a lo...

Writing Style

This super-short short story is a terrific example of Hemingway's famous prose style. His writing is journalistic and no-nonsense; he reports dialogue cleanly and directly, without any froufy adjec...

What's Up With the Title?

If we are to believe the main character of this story, we all only need one thing in life – you got it, "a clean, well-lighted place," preferably a clean, well-lighted café. The image of...

What's Up With the Ending?

The ending of this story gets us every time – it's so simple! So elegant! So very Hemingway! Basically, the protagonist (the older waiter) tries futilely to brush off his profound dissatisfac...

Plot Analysis

Maybe we're just being thick-headed, but dissecting "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" in terms of plot analysis just looks flat-out impossible to us. The kicker is, the story is nothing but a sequence...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: No basic plot

We can't really define the different stages of this story – Hemingway defies many of the conventions of the short story genre here, including the whole "story" part. "A Clean, Well-Lighted Pl...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Simply put, there is just no action in this story. The protagonist doesn't do anything, nor do the other two characters. Basically, we have three guys who represent different stages of life –...

Trivia

Do you just love that sparse Hemingway style? You can try your hand at it at the International Imitation Hemingway competition – it takes place every year in Century City, California. (Learn...

Steaminess Rating

Sex is almost a non-issue here. We get just the slightest suggestions of sexuality; when the soldier and date walk by, the waiters comment that even if he gets picked up by the guard for playing ho...

Allusions

The Lord's Prayer, Christianity (14)Hail Mary (prayer), Catholicism (14)
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