Steven Aguila1 - Steven Aguilar English 104 What It Means...

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Steven Aguilar English 104 10/29/07 What It Means to be Human “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway provides interesting perspectives on life. Hemingway uses extreme contrast between characters to show the different stages the characters are in at life and how different one’s priorities are as life goes on. Hemingway shows the terrifying implications of growing old and how the elderly are seen as useless nuisances by youth. “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” shows man’s inescapable fate of a tragic, young death or growing old and anxiously awaiting death’s arrival as your friends die and your body slowly begins to fail. The old man, hurried waiter, and unhurried waiter each have different ideas of what matters to them, they are all at different stages in life, and have different priorities. The old man, for example, wants to sit in a café and get drunk by himself at two o’clock in the morning. He chooses to drink there instead of going to a bar or buying some booze from a bodega to take home. “The old man is racked with despair - at his loneliness, the darkness of his life, his segregation from the world, and the Nothingness that permeates his existence.”(E.I. 2) The hurried and unhurried waiter quarrel for a while over whether or not to close up and send the old man home, the hurried waiter remarks “I wouldn't want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing.”(p. 96) The old man is a widower, very aged, deaf, and possibly close to death, he has already attempted suicide at least once and does not want to go home. The hurried waiter tells him he must leave, the old man requests another drink and leaves. The old man has the unhurried waiter’s respect though; he observes that the old man is “clean” and “drinks without spilling” (p. 98),
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