A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

This study guide will help you analyze the text “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characterizations, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Published in: Scribner's Magazine
Date of Publication: 1933
Genre: Short Story

Ernest Hemingway is considered a classic American author who revolutionized fiction writing in the 20th century. He was both a journalist and a writer and was awarded The Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for literature. His most well-known novels are “The Old Man and the Sea”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “A Farewell to Arms”. The short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” was initially published in a literary magazine and later on included in a collection titled “Winner Take Nothing”.


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In the short story, the café and the night time versus the light play a symbolic role. The café is like a symbolic shelter from the absurdity of existence, from nothingness and chaos. A clean café is preferred by people who are getting older, instead of bars and bodegas. Such a place becomes symbolic of the existential order and structure people start looking for when they get older.

Also, note that the events take place during the night, which is symbolically associated in most cultures with death.



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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

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