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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place


by Ernest Hemingway

Older Waiter Timeline and Summary

  • The older waiter and the younger waiter discuss the old man's suicide attempt.
  • The waiters briefly note the appearance of the soldier and his girlfriend.
  • The older waiter asks why the younger waiter is so impatient to send the old man away and go home.
  • The two waiters close up the café for the night, debating the merits of a clean, well-lighted place.
  • Left alone, the older waiter continues this conversation alone. He thinks that this clean, bright, pleasant place is necessary to keep dark thoughts at bay – after all, in his view, life is simply nothing.
  • The older waiter stops at a bar that is bright and pleasant, but not clean enough.
  • After having a cup of coffee, the older waiter makes his way home.
  • The older waiter is resigned to a sleepless night alone; he dismisses his dissatisfaction and loneliness as insomnia, concluding that a lot of other people suffer like he does.