A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Study Guide

Late at night, two waiters have to stay at work until the last customer leaves. They discuss his recent suicide attempt and the reasons why he does not want to go home. These two sentences suffice for a summary of the short story. The full text of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is short yet impressive. Critics have written hundreds of pages exploring the lack of meaning in human life. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place study guide features a comprehensive analysis of the story, characters’ descriptions, themes, and much more helpful information.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Key Facts

Full Name A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
AuthorErnest Hemingway
Genre Short story
Date of Publishing 1933
Setting (Time) After midnight
Setting (Place) A Spanish cafe

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Articles

Short story summary & analysis

This article contains a short summary of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. An illustrated timeline and a detailed plot summary and analysis are also to be found here.

Character analysis

Want to know more about A Clean, Well-Lighted Place characters? The deaf old man, the older waiter, and the younger waiter, as well as their connections, are described in this article.

Themes of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

What is the key theme of the short story? Find here the answer to this question! Nada (nothingness), alcohol, and old age are analyzed in this section.

Symbolism & literary analysis

Need to conduct literary analysis of the short story? In this section, you’ll find the story’s symbolism, setting, and irony described thoroughly.

Essay topics and examples

Need to write an essay on A Clean, Well-Lighted Place? We’ve collected best prompts, essay topics, and examples for you on one page.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Q&A

Looking for questions and answers about the short story? On this page, you’ll find the answers to the most pressing questions about A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Enjoy!

Historical Context of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway describes a case that happened during the Great Depression (1929 – 1939). It was the biggest economic crisis in the history of the western world. It brought about the financial breakdown of all social classes and the emotional trauma of many citizens. The period showcases how devastating an economic downturn can be for everyone.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place publication date is only 1933, which means that the Great Depression was in full blast. Before that year, Hemingway had traveled to Europe and Cuba. Most likely, he drew inspiration for the story’s setting somewhere in Spain. The atmosphere of helplessness was present there, too, although not as bad as in the US.

Hemingway was an existentialist writer. He focused on personal experiences and their results. He held a rifle for the first time at ten years old and went through WWI as an ambulance driver. In a word, the author saw lots of pain and suffering. This short story is a bitter finish to those horrors in everyday life.

Hemingway was a wealthy and famous person. Like him, the old man from the story had no problems with money. Still, this fact did not protect him from alcoholism and depression. The same thing happened to the author. The Great Depression affected everyone. Even if it did not impoverish some people, it ruined their mentality. Anxiety, alcohol misuse, and elevated suicide rates became an epidemic during the 1930s. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway shows the emotional state of millions of people of the decade.

The title’s meaning is literal. Everyone needs a clean and comfy place to restore and forget about the evil that surrounded them. They could be well-to-do and lead a peaceful life, but nothing could protect them from their memories. The symbolism of the Spanish café is simple. You can find such a place, but you cannot stay there forever.

In our study guide on A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, you’ll find a collection of ideas for your paper on the short story! If you are interested in writing an A+ essay, try our summarizing and paraphrasing tools for students. Finally, you might want to compare your style to that of a famous writer! 

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