Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Essay

Total Length: 692 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 1

Page 1 of 2

Both men's appearance are said to repel the young, yet they attempt to safeguard their 'just' reputations -- Blindy even says directly that he earned his nickname in his infamous fight: "you seen me earn it" (495). Blindy says that Willie Sawyer's castrating him, although not blinding him was 'too much' during his final fight, as if bargaining with fate.

Eventually, some compassionate individual steps in to defend the reputation of the old men. In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" the older waiter takes the old man's side when the younger waiter casts aspersions on the old man's lack of sexual prowess -- because, it is implied that he also lives alone in similar depression and isolation. Frank the bartender tells the story of Blindy's final fight. This is essential given that even if they men believe their fates are 'just' in some fashion, they are haunted by incomplete business in their past lives -- the old man becomes maudlin after getting drunk, Blindy is put out into the car after making a move for Willie Sawyer's face when the two of them are in the same car. Even in old age, patterns of behavior still linger on.

There are, according to Leonard, some signs of hope in the story, through compassion, as through the example of the older waiter trying to forestall violence from occurring in the bar.
Frank the bartender gives Blindy a room for the night and a drink, and Blindy raises the glass he is given as if he were sighted. Over alcohol in both stories, there is a kind of bond amongst the lonely, like the older waiter in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," one "of those who like to stay late at the cafe" to avoid going home, although he refuses a final drink. Forestalled violence, the loss of sexual prowess and beauty, and the difficulty of asserting dignity are evident in each tale -- as is the idea that age does not diminish the drive to….....

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