Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place": The Concept Of Nada



In Ernest Hemingway's short story, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place”,
the concept of nada is the central and most important theme. As described
by Carlos Baker, Nada is “a Something called Nothing which is so huge,
terrible, overbearing, inevitable, and omnipresent that, once experienced,
it can never be forgotten” (Baker 124). It is a metaphysical state that
symbolizes the chaos in everyone's lives. Some people have it more than
others and some deal with this idea differently that others. Either way,
nada is an uncontrollable force that should never be forgotten.
Steven Hoffman, believes that “the only way to approach the Void
is to develop a very special mode of being, the concrete ...

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of nada. If one has
the internal qualities, cleanliness and inner vision, they can cope with
the nothingness even outside of the cafe. The old waiter is a prime example.
At times the old man lacks these qualities thus not being able to cope
with the darkness. On the other hand, the young waiter has no concept of
this idea thus making him not even realize how powerful it can be.
The old waiter is the most important character in “A Clean Well-
Lighted Place.” The old waiter has completely grasped the concept of nada
and is able to deal with it. Hemingway says,” What did he fear? It was
not fear or dread. It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a
nothing and a man was a nothing too...Some lived in it and never felt it
but he knew it all...” (258). It was him that recognizes the old man's
problem from the beginning. He realizes that this man is dealing with the
most difficult part of his life, the end. Also, the old man's parody of
the Lord's prayer clearly shows ...

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and
realizes that there is a destructive force out there called nada. However,
unlike the waiter, he has not yet learned to face this force and often
tries to escape it through drinking or attempted suicide. The old man
realizes the importance of this cafe in his life. This is the pleasant
place where he goes to escape the reality of his own life. Even though the
old man believes that this place is an escape, Hoffman says,”...darkness
has indeed invaded this character's place, for he sits ‘in the shadows the
leaves of the trees made against the electric light'” (181).
The old man's dignity and style are all that he has to fight this
void. Hemingway believed “that an ordered personal ...

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Added: 1/6/2004 01:57:47 PM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1308
Pages: 5

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