Study Guide

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place What's Up With the Ending?

By Ernest Hemingway

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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 dissatisfaction with the world around him, dismissing it as "only insomnia" (19). Furthermore, he reasons with himself by thinking that "many must have it" (19) – that is to say, many people in the world must suffer from the vague sense of nothingness that plagues him. In a nutshell, that's basically the point Hemingway's making here: we all end up in the same place of spiritual "insomnia," unable to make sense of a senseless world.

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