Title: A Summary Essay of a Critical article over Ernest Hemingways A Clean Well Lighted Place
- Total Pages: 2
- Words: 692
- Citation Style: MLA
- Document Type: Essay
updated information and sources below!
Initial Handout for Formal Papers
1. Introduction: This document contains important information about the first three formal papers you are required to write in this class—Summary Essay1, Summary Essay 2, and the Research Paper. In addition to basic instructions and requirements, this document also sets out due dates for these papers. Also included is a list of thirteen stories. You must select one story from that list to base all three papers on.
In other words, all three papers must be based on the same story. Each summary essay must be about a different article, but each article summarized must be about the same story.
You may not write about a story that is not on the list. If you base your papers on some story not on this list, the paper will be returned to you with a grade of zero.
2. Format: All of your papers and any drafts of papers must be computer or word processor generated in a Times New Roman .12 font. No handwritten drafts or papers will be accepted.
All papers must be prepared following the MLA guidelines. Failure to adhere to MLA guidelines will lower your grade.
3. Do your own work. You are guilty of plagiarism if you try to take credit for work done by someone else. For example, do not turn in a paper written or largely edited by someone else; do not use someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit by using proper documentation, including, where appropriate, quotations marks. See LBH 629-38. If you are guilty of plagiarism, you may receive a failing grade for the course.
4. General note about articles and sections of a book: While the instructions and guidelines that follow use the term “article” and not “book section,” that restricted use of terms is for convenience and brevity. You may use books for secondary sources and may summarize sections of books in your summary essays as long as the book section that you summarize meets the applicable minimum page requirements and is of high quality.
5. Turning in Copies of Your Secondary Sources: You are required to turn in to me copies of all of your secondary sources. Your “primary source” for these papers will be the short story you write your research paper about. Your “secondary sources” will be the critical articles and book sections about the story that you find in or through the library and take information from to use in your research paper. See LBH 898 and 900 for general definitions of these terms. When you turn in a paper, you must also turn in at that time a good copy of any secondary source used in the paper and not already submitted to me in connection with an earlier paper.
Summary Essays—Guidelines for Preparing
Three key features of a summary essay are: (1) it is shorter than the source, (2) except for brief quotations, it repeats the ideas of the source in different phrases and sentences, and (3) it contains none (or almost none) of your own ideas, facts, or opinions.
The purpose of a summary essay is to convey to others an understanding of an article or book section you have read, without their having to read it. Hence, your summary essay functions as a substitute for the article you are summarizing. You must not misrepresent your source or mislead your audience. So you must represent your source accurately and comprehensively, with as little of your own interpretation as possible (Anytime you read and repeat a source, you are, to a limited extent, interpreting it; but writing a good summary essay requires that you minimize your interpretation and opinion as much as possible. For example, you should not add your own examples or explanations. Also avoid phrases, such as “this excellent article,” which express your opinion.)
Each summary essay must summarize one of the four to six critical articles that you plan to use as secondary sources in your Research Paper. You may not summarize the same article twice. Each of the articles that you summarize must be at least six pages long and meet all the requirements for secondary sources in the Research Paper. Summaries of articles that do not meet the requirements for secondary sources, including the minimum page length (six pages), will not be accepted for a grade but will simply be returned with a grade of zero.
Each of your summary essays must be between one-and-a-half to three pages long.
Remember; summarize the article. Do not summarize or retell the story the article is about. Assume your reader has read the story.
A helpful, basic discussion of summary writing can be found at LBH 140-42. More information can be found at http://www.users.drew.edu/~sjamieso/Summary.html, particularly in the sections on writing a summary essay. A link to that site is on our Course Homepage at My.Lamar.edu.
Your summary essays must be prepared using the MLA guidelines that apply to all formal papers submitted in this class. Each summary essay must also include a works cited page listing the article summarized and the story the article addresses. You must cite to the copy of the story found in the Kennedy reader.
For an example of a summary essay of this type written by another student, please see the sample summary essay I will give you entitled “Ann Ronald’s ‘Roger Malvin’s Grandson.’”
Your Title: The title of your summary essay must include both the full name of the critic and the full title of his or her article that you are summarizing. See the title of the sample summary essay.
Your Introductory Paragraph: Your first paragraph, written as though your essay had no title, must include the full name of the critic and the full title of his or her article. Your introductory paragraph must also clearly identify the story the article is about (do this by stating the full title of the story and the full name of the author). See the sample summary essay, first paragraph.
The Research Paper—Basic Instructions and Information
1. Basic Requirements: Your Research Paper must be about one of the short stories on the attached list of approved works. Your research paper must—in a thesis driven fashion—summarize, interpret, and analyze secondary sources related to the story you are writing about. This process is called synthesis. A good discussion of synthesis writing can be found at: http://users.drew.edu/~sjamieso/Synthesis.htm. See especially the sections on a Thesis-Driven Synthesis and on writing a Synthesis Essay. See also LBH 161-63 and 610-11.
Typically, in the Research Paper for this class, about 70 percent of the ideas and opinions about the story will come form your secondary sources. We will discuss at length in class how your original thoughts and opinions enter into this kind of paper.
The Research Paper must be three to five pages in length, not counting the works cited
page. Papers shorter than the minimum page requirement are usually lacking in
substance, quality, or both, and the grades they receive usually reflect that fact.
2. Draft of the Research Paper: You must submit a draft of your Research Paper. The draft must include a draft thesis statement, two supporting paragraphs, and a draft works cited page, all in MLA format. The draft will be graded as daily work and will count the same as three quizzes. See the attached list of dates for the date when this draft is due.
3. Secondary sources: In addition to your primary source (the short story), you must also draw on and properly document four to six high quality, clearly relevant secondary sources. Two of your secondary sources must be at least six pages in length. Two of the other secondary sources must be at least three pages long. None of your secondary sources may be from Magill’s or Gale’s. For more information about the kind of secondary sources that are acceptable, see the attached document entitled “Requirements, Guidelines, and Suggestions for Reference Works Used in Your Research Paper and Summary Essays.”
4. Your Research Paper will be evaluated on the substance of what you say, on your adherence to MLA guidelines, on the quality of your sources, on your understanding and use of your sources—both primary and secondary, and on your adherence to the rules of standard grammar. Clarity and precision, if lacking in a paper, detract from its substance.
Requirements, Guidelines, and Suggestions for Secondary Sources
Used in Your Research Paper
Books: The most reliable and useful books will generally be the ones you obtain from or through the Lamar Library. Books published by one of the university presses are typically among the most reliable. You can find books for your project through our Library’s online catalog accessible via the Library’s main web page.
Journal Articles and Required Number of Pages: The best way to locate high quality articles about your story is through the online MLA database. You can access this database through the Library’s main web page by using the “Electronic Resources” function.
The journal articles on your works cited page should come from journals indexed in the MLA International Bibliography and listed in the MLA Directory of Periodicals.
Two of the articles must be at least six pages in length. The other two must be at least three pages in length. This page number requirement also applies to articles (or chapters or sections) found in books (see discussion above) or obtained from electronic sources (see discussion below). Whether an article meets the required number of pages will be determined by the number of pages in the original article, not by the number of pages in an online html copy of the article.
Electronic Sources: Do not browse the Internet looking for secondary sources. Instead, use only the online, electronic sources that you can access directly through the Lamar Library’s “Electronic Resources” link to electronic indexes. Note that there may be special, additional information requirements when citing one of these electronic sources. Be sure you fulfill any such requirements.
PDF versus html Format: If you find an article online through the library’s electronic sources and if it is available in Full Text in PDF format (as opposed to html format), be sure to download the version of the article that is in PDF format, not the one in html format. The copy in PDF format will include the original page numbers, which will make it easier to properly cite the article in your paper.
Magill’s and Gale’s: Do not use articles from Magill’s or Gale’s for secondary sources in your research paper. Magill’s and Gale’s should be used only for preliminary research, to get an overview of the story or of the available criticism of that story. For your research paper, do not include on your works cited page any articles from either of these two sources. In addition, do not base either of you Summary Essays on anything you obtained directly from Magill’s or Gale’s. If you do so, the paper will be returned with a grade of zero.
Note: If my permission is obtained in advance, I may permit a student to use an article not obtained directly via the Lamar Library’s “Electronic Resource” portal to internet resources, but such an article will be in addition to the four articles otherwise required, not a substitute for one of them.
Some Thoughts on Selecting Articles (or Book Sections)
Remember that each of your two summary essays must be about a critical article (or book section) at least six pages long that you find in a journal (or book) through the Lamar Library.
Each article must be about the story you will write your Research Paper about. Articles do not have to be only about symbolism, or tone, or any one particular idea—they have to be about the story.
As to how to select a good article, that is part of the challenge of the assignment and how well you pick helps determine your grade. I suggest that initially you find fifteen to twenty articles that seem interesting to you because they say something important or helpful to you about the story. Avoid articles that you do not understand because of, for example, the heavy use of highly technical terms or jargon in the article. Find articles that help you understand or appreciate the story more than you did before you read the article. If you like the article because it helps you, you will be much more likely to be able to use it intelligently and enthusiastically in your papers.
If you want an above average grade (an A or a B) do not use only the full text articles you find online. Those are the easy ones to find and get copies of. As a result, they have been used over and over by students in prior classes. Hence, a paper written based only on such articles stands little chance of being fresh or original. There are many more articles in the stacks or available through interlibrary loan than are on line. Indeed, many of the best and most insightful articles are not available in full text online. Don’t be lazy; seek out the best. Go to the library and pull some of the journals off the shelves and look for great articles for your paper. Start looking early, so if what seems like a great article or book is not in our library you can get it though the interlibrary loan process.
Then, from the articles you have identified as potential ones to use, pick the eight to ten best, being sure that they meet the page length requirements. If all goes well, some of these articles will serve as the required four to six secondary sources for your research paper.
Next, from this final group, write summary essays about any two that are at least six pages long.
Now, it is possible that you may, at first, think an article is great and write your summary essay about it. And then when it comes time to write the Research Paper, you may find that the article just does not fit in with the theme you want to write the paper about. Frankly, that doesn't happen very often, but if it does, then you just see me and explain the situation, we agree on a change in articles, and you switch to another article you have found and use it in the research paper.
I strongly suggest that for the first article you summarize, you should pick what seems like an interesting and helpful article that you understand and can confidently explain to someone else.
Quick Checklist—Summary Essay
The Critical Article or Book Section (see pages 2 and 4 of the Initial Handout for Formal Papers)
_____ It was obtained through the Lamar Library, either a hardcopy from the shelves, online through the EBSCOHOST portal, in PDF format, or via inter library loan.
_____ It is not from either Gale’s or Magill’s. Summaries of articles from either such database will not be accepted. They and summaries of articles that are too short will be returned with a zero grade.
_____ The Article or Book Section is about the story your research paper will be about and is six or more pages long.
Your Summary Essay (see page 2 of Initial Handout for Formal Papers)
_____ Must include (1) the name of the critic and (2) the title of his or her article or book
_____ Must be capitalized correctly (LBH 491) and use quotation marks correctly (LBH 470-71 and 472-73)
Your Introductory Paragraph
_____ Must identify (1) the story and (2) its author (full name).
_____ Must identify (3) the critical article or book (your topic) and (4) its author.
_____ The thesis statement is not your main point, it is the main point of the article or book section.
_____ Paragraph does not contain any of you own opinions, facts, ideas, examples, or the like.
Your Other Paragraphs
_____ Each body paragraph has a topic sentence, about the article or book section, and everything in the paragraph supports the topic. Everything else is left out of the paragraph.
_____ Each idea, fact, or opinion from the article or book is properly documented in MLA fashion. None of your own opinions, facts, ideas, or the like is present.
_____ Tell the reader in less words than the original what the original says. You include major points and omit minor points from the original. Summary is the primary method used; quotations are short, limited, integrated, and properly punctuated.
_____ Include one or more key examples from the article or book, and only short, carefully selected and limited quotations for illustration. [Note: Quotations must be integrated—not floating or dumped. See LBH 625 (2) and the handout on Integrating Quotations.]
_____ There is no concluding paragraph.
_____ Present tense is used. First person is not used, only third person. See LBH 744 (50c(2)).
Scholars and critics lately have put to good use the companion pieces among Ernest Hemingway's short fiction. Susan Beegel has achieved insights into "The Undefeated" and "A Lack of Passion" from side-by-side analysis of these two antithetical companion stories. Robert Fleming, in "Dismantling the Code: Hemingway's 'A Man of the World,"' opens up the riches of that short story when he aligns it with "The Undefeated" and "Fifty Grand" by interpreting all three narratives as "structured around 'code heroes"'(6). By comparing "A Man of the World" with "The Battler," "The Killers," and "The Short Happy l if e of Francis Macomber," Fleming sees an initiation story, although he concludes that the protagonist of "A Man of the World," Blindy, is a parody of the "code hero" and, underneath "his stoic insistence on the sacredness of that [heroic! identity," a "hollow man" (9).[ 1] For Fleming, "A Man of the World" is an ironic code story.
Applying the same critical method, I offer a comparison between "A Man of the World" and its more famous counterpart, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." The close reader quickly discovers a large number of elements common to both stories. This is not to say that "A Man of the World" replicates the conscious and hidden symbols and actions of its renowned predecessor. There arc differences, most notably the memorably foregrounded nihilism in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," which as Fleming points out is not found in "A Man of the World," and the use of a first-person narrator (Tom) in the later story.
The reader should bear in mind that the stories were published nearly a quarter century apart: "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" in 1933 and "A Man of the World" in 1957, the latter about four years before the author's suicide. But given the two stories' common themes, one must acknowledge the author's uniform and sustained attitude toward age. Hemingway's wisdom concerning age came early, and he seems to have kept that counsel all his life. In The Garden of Eden, David Bourne has the same recognition: 'He [David Bourne] must remember that. He had only a sorrow that had come from his own tiredness that had brought an understanding of age. Through being too young he had learned how it must be to be too old" ( 1-2).
Age is a central theme in both short stories, and it is the older characters, the old man and older waiter versus the younger waiter in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," and Frank the bartender and Blindy versus the young fellow/stranger in "A Man of the World," who carry the ideological burden. Tom the narrator stresses the generation gap throughout "A Man of the World": Blindy has been "on lots of roads" (CSS 493); Frank the bartender was a witness to Blindy's brawl with Willie Sawyer during the former's "fighting days," making him coeval with Blindy; the outsider who learns about Blindy's history is "the young fellow" during the first half of the story. In "A Clean Well-Lighted Place," opposing viewpoints due to differences in age and experience create dramatic conflict. Julian Smith calls "A Man of the World" a "technically perfect story" (10), and also notes that it takes its meaning from "the reactions inspired in others" (Willie Sawyer, Frank, Al Chaney, Tom, and the young fellow) by Blindy (10). Actually all of the older characters seek the young fellow's response in one way or another: Tom by denying that he knows anything about how Blindy lost his sight (494), Frank by setting the record straight, Blindy by justifying his name ("I earned that name" 495). Each older subject has a specific restless need to intiate youth.
Readers of Hemingway know well the brief plot of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." They may however need reminding of the abbreviated action in "A Man of the World," narrated by Tom and set in Wyoming. Blindy nightly cadges money from the patrons of saloon slot machines in The Flats, and then travels on foot or hitchhikes to Jessup, where he works that town's two saloons, The Pilot and The Index. On the night the story takes place, Tom asks Blindy why he looks frozen and Blindy explains that he had to walk part of the way to Jessup. Blindy refuses a drink from Al Chaney, and when a young fellow hits twice on the machines, Blindy begs a quarter from him each time. After serving the young fellow and Tom a drink, Frank the bartender tells the young stranger how years earlier Blindy lost both eyes in a brawl with Willie Sawyer, whose face Blindy mutilated in the same fight. Blindy overhears the narration and with pride adds a detail or two. He also notes that it was Willie Sawyer who put him out of the car on the way to Jessup, because Blindy placed his hands on Willie's face. After insisting that his name is now Blindy and not Blackie, he accepts from Frank a drink and an offer to sleep overnight in the back of The Pilot. The story is brief, but a detailed reading reveals that a lot happens in the span of four pages.
The consolation of light is crucial in both stories, most obviously in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" (CSS 290). "Well" is an important qualifier: the cafe is shadowed by leaves so as not to be "very bright" (291). In addition it is "clean and pleasant" (290). The bodega has a "shining steam pressure coffee machine" (291), but unlike the cafe is "very bright (291). Its excessive brightness and "unpolished" bar repel the older waiter (291). In "A Man of the World," approaching cars pick up Blindy in "their lights" (492) as he stops along the road between The Flats and Jessup, and his fight with Willie Sawyer took place in the lights from the doors of The Pilot and The Index (494). Blindy regrets not being able to "see sometimes" (495), but darkness does not undermine his ebullient persona. He puts a heroic face on his tragic life.
Annette Benert interprets the "Light" of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" as one of the "barriers . . . against Nothingness itself' (183). Steven K. Hoffman sees the light of the same story as a metaphor for "a special kind of vision, the clear-sightedness and absolute lack of illusion to look into the darkness and thereby come to grips with the nada which is everywhere" (176). One can argue that Blindy also has this "special kind of vision." He is well aware of the odds against him, of his lowly and disadvantaged position in a difficult society, of the incessant demands life puts on his wits and will-power, yet he never despairs. Toward the end of the story Tom describes a brief, passing gesture of Blindy's: "His hand reached out and found the glass and he raised it accurately to the three of usus" (495). Blind though he is, Blindy performs his toast "accurately," as if he could see and did not live in darkness. The accurate toast becomes an implicit metaphor for the daily routines of Blindy's life. He is careful on the roads, drinks moderately, works the slot machines nightly, and is ever alert to the sounds from the machines. He lives as if he actually experiences light with little or no psychic or physical disorientation. His is a very limited life but one that is admirably functional. At times he rejoices with manic glee over his bits and pieces of good fortune.
As a frequently discussed symbol or as a special kind of vision (Hoffman 176), light opens to wide view "the dignity of movement" that is the surface of Blindy's daily life and, to a lesser degree, the hidden "seven-eighths" below. I should note that many still question the "dignity of movement" in the one-eighth above the surface of "A Man of the World" -- according to Paul Smith, "Carlos Baker dismissed both these stories ["A Man of the World" and "Get a Seeing-Eyed Dog"] as trivial and there is always the off chance that he was right" (392).[ 2] Much of what is subtextual is arguable, conjectural, and enigmatic; as well as ultimately indistinguishable from the voice of Hemingway. But what is there must be formidable enough to sustain the resilience of Blindy's surface life.
Another signifier common to both short stories is concern over money, specifically in the context of age. The old man in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" has "plenty of money" (298), but Blindy must "work" the slot machines of the two towns (492). Both characters evince a middle-class fiscal conservatism, of the same sort George Cheatham, following Scott Donaldson, finds in Jake Barnes. Cheatham defines it this way: "Just exchanges [Jake's term in The Sun Also Rises l are also equitable exchanges, legal, correct, proper, exact, accurate, uniform exchanges" (29). Note how the old man accounts and pays for his drinks in "A Clean, Well-Iighted Place": "[He] slowly counted the saucers, took a leather coin purse from his pocket and paid for the drinks, leaving half a peseta tip" (290). The exchange is "proper, exact, accurate," even given the old man's inebriated condition.
Blindy may lack the wealth of the old man but he imbues his financial and social affairs with the same spirit of "just exchanges." Blindy has to scramble for quarters, but his transactions are always enacted with the assiduous sense of the honest business deal. Blindy gets his first quarter from the young fellow despite the latter's reluctance to give it to him. On the "pretty good" second jackpot Blindy politely accepts a single quarter; he raises no quarrel about a bigger jackpot entitling him to a bigger cut, and when the young fellow's luck turns, Blindy does not badger him with any undue pleas for money. Nor does Blindy follow the young fellow after he leaves the machines and returns to the bar; Blindy continues to stand by the machines "waiting for someone else to come in and make a play" (493). Blindy will "earn" his quarters. His diligence, his obsessive concern about justly earning his quarters, his name, and even his social worthiness, overshadows his physical ugliness, his lack of personal hygiene, and his formerly violent nature. The narrator again and again attests to the assiduity of Blindy's vocation: "it must have taken him quite a time" "to learn the sounds of all the different machines" (492). For a blind man to walk the often frozen road between The Flats and Jessup every night is a considerable feat--"He'd stop by the side of the road when he heard a car coming and their lights would pick him up and either they would stop and give him a ride or they wouldn't and would go on by on the icy road" (492). The narrator uses the word "worked" twice in the first paragraph of the story and in the second "threw his trade" to emphasize the economic propriety of Blindy's cadging in these difficult circumstances. Blindy also uses financial terms to describe the acquisition of his nickname: " [ 1 ] earned that name. You seen me earn it" (495).
The old man and Blindy live out their lives with the diminishment or loss of the male sexual drive. In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" the younger waiter boasts that he has "a wife waiting in bed" (289) and then scornfully avers that "A wife would be no good to him [the old man] now" (289). The compassionate older waiter counters: "You can't tell. He might be better with a wife" (289), a response abundant with meanings: a wife might be an antidote to the loneliness and depression the old man experiences, someone to care for him or someone for whom he could care, someone with whom perhaps to have conjugal relations. The older waiter's sympathy for the old man's conjugal deprivations finds a responsive chord in Hemingway's correspondence. In a letter written in 1954 to Bernard Berenson, Hemingway observed: "But B.B. there is nothing like Africa as there is nothing like youth and nothing like loving who you love or waking each day not knowing what the day will bring, but knowing it will bring something" (SL 838).
A reader might lose sight of the lost sexuality theme amid the sensational violence and repellent physical ugliness described in "A Man of the World." But despite all that has befallen Blindy since his memorable brawl with Willie Sawyer, and despite his current squalor, only once in the story does he evince sadness or discouragement and that by understatement. In "his high-pitched voice" (494) Blindy tells the young fellow that after blinding him Willie Sawyer "stomped me when I couldn't see" (494). He then discursively adds the judgment: "That was the bad part" (494). Blindy could reconcile himself to being blinded by Willie Sawyer; being castrated by him, however, is horrible and morally reprehensible, a wanton act of humiliation. The "youth . . . and loving" Hemingway described to Berenson is lost forever.
In the aftermath of these irreversible traumas Blindy has shown what Julian Smith calls "lifelong endurance under pressure" (9). His stoical acceptance of his dire fate inspires Smith to add: the "dignified, stigmata-bearing Blindy [is] . . . like Christ, a man of the world, a man of all the world" (12). Between Smith's effusive judgment and Howard L. Hannum's estimate of Blindy as "Hemingway's final, sardonic comment on the boxer-brawler" (342) lie the upbeat elements, amid preponderant squalor and ugliness, of Blindy's life: his speaking "without any rancor," his narrating "happily" how he touched Willie Sawyer's face earlier that night, and his raising his glass "accurately to the three of usus" (495). His elan is the manic antipode to the sad though dignified life of the old man in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." Both characters, however, play out their biases as a response to losing the consolatory joys of human sexuality.
Another theme common to both stories is social isolation. The old man is a widower; the younger waiter calls him "lonely" (289), and the older waiter agrees. The older waiter, arguably the story's protagonist but certainly the "mentor," lives much like the old man, apparently also with no wife and with no niece. At the end he is to "go home to his room"; his profoundest "thinking" is shared with no one: he keeps his thoughts "to himself" (291). In "A Man of the World" the cars that pass Blindy on the road, Blindy's positioning himself "down at the far end of the machines" (494), his sleeping by himself in the back of The Pilot, and Tom's assertion that it "was always hard for me to look at him" (493) demonstrate the reality of Blindy's loneliness. Considering Blindy"s social isolation, "A Man of the World" is an ironic title; that Blindy tries to sustain this view of himself is a tribute to his lonely heroism. Isolation envelops other characters as well. Even though Blindy's life is tied to Willie Sawyer's in a perverse and unrelenting way, Blindy states the truth simply: Willie Sawyer is "Probably alone home by himself' (495). The "young fellow" becomes "the stranger" in the second half of the story, following the narrator's denial of having witnessed the brawl between Blindy and Willie Sawyer. That the older characters in the Hemingway canon must suffer in isolation seems to be a constant. David Bourne in The Garden of Eden sounds the knell: "That was all he took from the elephant except the beginning of the knowledge of loneliness" (16).
Three other themes cluster about loneliness, adding their dismaying significance to the view of age presented in both stories. Consider physical debility. That the body withers and loses its prowess and beauty is a commonplace but worrisome fact. The drama lies in the eventual allotment of debilities to each person and how he or she responds spiritually. In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" the old man counts "slowly" and walks "unsteadily" (290). He is deaf, "in despair" (288), and according to the younger waiter, "a nasty thing" (289). The older waiter argues against that judgment, observing, "He [the old man] drinks without spilling" (289), a thrust at the younger waiter having "poured on into the glass so that the brandy slopped over and ran down the stem into the top saucer of the pile" (289). The older waiter too has lost "youth" (290), "confidence" (291), sleep ("only insomnia" 290), and by implication joy. But his sadness yields compassion ("Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe" 290).
In "A Man of the World" physical debility is shockingly foregrounded in Willie Sawyer and Blindy. Sawyer's face has a hole big enough so that "the whole inside of his face . . . [could] catch cold" (495). And then there are Blindy's eyeless sockets covered with "small pus icicles" (493), his body which smells "plenty strong" (492), and his "high-pitched" voice (494). He is so physically repellent that it is "hard for [Tom I to look at him" (493). He looks "so awful" (493) that the young stranger "quit playing [the slots] and came over to the bar" (493). In both stories, the younger characters are unsympathetic to the infirmities inherent in age. A "nasty thing" says the younger waiter of the old man, and "Him fight'?" asks the young stranger of Blindy (494). Empathy for the aging subjects proceeds from their cohorts, the older waiter in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" and Prank the bartender in "A Man of the World."
Depression bordering on despair dogs the older characters in these stories. "The old man is "drunk every night" (289), is quite capable of becoming "too drunk," and has "tried to commit suicide" (288). Depression pervades the story linguistically and dramatically. The old man's drunkeness, despair, loneliness, and attempted suicide dominate the conversation between the waiters and gloom even infects their observations on the "girl and a soldier [who go] by in the street": "The guard will pick him up" (288). The younger waiter becomes a pitiless agent of despair, telling the unhearing old man to his face "You should have killed yourself last week" (289). The older waiter too bears a melancholic burden; lacking "Everything but work" (290), he fully comprehends that "a man was nothing too" (291). Only in the final paragraph does the pall of despair begin to lighten, with "sleep" and "daylight" finally becoming achievable ends.
In "A Man of the World," depression, both from trauma and shame, drives the self-imposed and unchanging social isolation of Willie Sawyer. Depression nags at Blindy's spirit also, though paradoxically acted out. He exhibits a hale and happy resilience even to strangers ('our night is my night" 493); a laudable prudence governs his bibulousness (he has "to be careful on the roads" 493). It is true that by cadging drinks, in addition to husbanding his meager store of coins, he guarantees that he never has to drink alone. Yet Tom, the narrator, clearly alludes to the dark underside of Blindy's nature. Blindy placed himself "at the far end of the machines," figuring "no one would come in if they saw him at the door" 494.) Even though he tries to get tauntingly "funny" with Willie Sawyer, Blindy states emphatically that they "have never made friends" (495). On two occasions he angrily tells Tom and Frank that "Blindy's the name," "just don't call me Blackie" (495). A sense of unworthiness' bitterness over the castrating injury, sadistic humor, and suppressed anger exact their depressive levy on Blindy's spirit. Only Frank's quick action defuses Blindy's anger and melancholic mood: "Have a drink, Blindy" (495), Frank says, offering alcohol-induced tranquility and safe sleep at the story's end.
In the Hemingway oeuvre, from In Our Time to "The Garden of Eden, the essential characteristic of all experience is threatened or actual violence. The old man in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is an unsettling reminder that age is no protection against violence. Violence is the primary raw material of the critical industry surrounding the Hemingway canon. From Malcolm Cowley's, "In no other writer of our time can you find such a profusion of . . . morally wounded people who also devour themselves" (40-41) to Amberys R. Whittle's observation that many "of Hemingway's stories . . . are parables of. . . violent death" (287), the question is one of how the subject deals with violent, often lethal experience. "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" and "A Man of the World" are no exceptions.
Consider "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." The old man tries to commit suicide by hanging. The soldier for a night of passion risks arrest by the guard. The young waiter urges the deaf old man to commit suicide. Only accidental good fortune forestalls violence in the first half of the story: the niece prevents the old man from dying, the guard does not arrest the soldier, and the old man cannot hear the younger waiter's brutal taunt. In the second half of the story, only the ameliorating actions of the older waiter and the old man defuse two potentially violent incidents. The old man responds cooperatively to the younger waiter's "Finished"; and the older writer/mentor backs off his "insult" to the younger waiter by saying he was only trying "to make a joke" (290).
The violence in "A Man of the World," both past and present, is actual. Violence at its most sensational occurs in Frank's narrative and Blindy's coda about the fight between Blindy and Willie Sawyer. Based on those two paragraphs, Howard L. Hannum logically concludes that Blindy's story is "Hemingway's final, sardonic comment on the boxer-brawler," representing "the final stage of such violence" (342). The reader must stretch to find "dignity of movement" in the fight passages, and may incline either to share "Carlos Baker's estimate" (340) or to follow Paul Smith's lead and link up the story with "Mark Twain and the tradition of the tall tale" (393).
Putting aside the sensational "fight" passage, the reader will discover violence in other guises. Willie Sawyer puts Blindy out of his car to "be frozen up so bad" (493). Later Blindy confesses he started the altercation in the car by once again putting his hands on Willie Sawyer's face (495). Although their "fighting days" are long past, the urge to assault or humiliate each other is still present (495). Even if Blindy is just using his hands to "see" and remind himself of his past accomplishments, his action is abusive and malevolent, an assault on Willie's forlorn dignity.
Reprising the subtle, psychological, and diminishing violence in "A Man of the World" requires an extended dramatic example involving Blindy, Tom, and Frank. First, one should note that Paul Smith, following Julian Smith, is correct in ascertaining that the "drama [in 'A Man of the World'] rests in the reaction of the three others [Frank, Tom, the young fellow/strangerl at the bar" (393). Secondly, Julian Smith in his critical study has noted certain parallels with the New Testament:
Blindy, I am suggesting, is, like Christ, a man of the world .... But whereas Blindy has accepted his fate, Tom the narrator would turn away could he. Thrice he denies Blindy, once by claiming not to know his story, once by claiming he has not heard of the fight though he was there, once by calling him by his old name. Tom is a doubting Thomas unwilling to put his hands, metaphorically, into Blindy's wounds--unlike Blindy who can touch Willie's wounds (12).
This religious interpretation does not lack cogency, although it is arguable. However, the dramatic import of Tom's denial is evident. When the outsider asks Tom how Blindy lost "his sight," Tom belligerently replies, "I wouldn't know" (494). Immediately Tom, who up until then had identified the outsider seven times as "the young fellow," calls him "the stranger" and will do so twice more in the remainder of the narrative:
"I wouldn't know," I told him. ["In a fight," Frank told him.][ 3] "Him fight," the stranger said. He shook his head. "Yeah," Frank said. (494)
Tom, obviously unnerved, estranges himself from the young outsider. And he also grows testier with Frank's and Blindy's recapitulation of the brawl, a testiness exacerbated by Frank's deliberately curt retorts, "In a fight" and "Yeah," aimed at jogging Tom's memory and conscience. His testiness is also demonstrated when he angers Blindy by using his old name: "Give Blackie a drink," I [Tom] said to Frank. "Blindy's the name, Tom. I earned that name. You seen me earn it." (495).
Blindy goes on to explain to the stranger what he did to Willie Sawyer's face earlier that night, arousing the disapproval of Frank, who reproves the blind man by calling him Blackie: "'Blackie, you have one on the house,' Frank said." Blindy, of course, takes vehement exception once again to being called by his old name: "That's mighty good of you Frank [to offer me sleeping quarters!. Only just don't call me Blackie. I'm not Blackie any more. Blindy's my name." Frank, unlike Tom, wisely and compassionately corrects himself and adds a fillip: "Have a drink, Blindy" (495). Just as the older waiter in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" defuses a potentially violent altercation by making "a joke," Frank also becomes the peacemaker who facilitates the swing of the narrative from abhorrent violence to social amity and eventually to the tranquility of isolated but secure and consolatory sleep.
The stories share positive as well as negative themes. There is a merging of voices into a kind of spiritual bond. In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," the voices of the older waiter and the old man, who, as Carlos Baker notes, never speak a single word to each other, join to express a common ethos, by implication Hemingway's as well. In "A Man of the World" there is a similar bonding between Frank and Blindy. Tom is uneasy about Blindy's loquacious presence, but it's Frank the bartender who should want Blindy gone from The Pilot. Blindy is bad for business: he "had run . . . [the young fellow] out" from the slot machines (493), the patrons threaten to "go next door to The Index," "no one would come in if they saw him at the door" (494). And yet Frank tells the story of the fight, pacifies Blindy by using his correct name, and offers him a drink and a room for the night "in the back of the place" (495). Like the older waiter in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," one "of those who like to stay late at the cafe" (290), Frank signals his spiritual closeness to Blindy with various offers of comfort and security.
Blindy "reached out and found the glass and he raised it accurately" (495) and gratefully for the bartender's respect and compassion for him. As the "accurate" toast shows, Blindy never forgets his manners. Good manners, indeed dignity and self-esteem, found in such an unlikely subject, only reinforce the argument that the need to act with grace is universal and lifelong. In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" the old man and the older waiter certainly embody this virtue. The old man walks "unsteadily but with dignity" (290), he says "thank you" (289) to the insulting younger waiter who pours him a brandy, and he pays for all his drinks, "leaving half a peseta tip" (290). The older waiter too exercises good manners. Although the younger waiter does "not understand" (290), the older waiter never sinks to rude or provocative behavior, but responds with a well-mannered "Good night" (291). And even though the older waiter "disliked bars and bodegas," his final words in the story, addressed to the barman, naturally are: "No, thank you" (291) --laconic but polite.
Strange to tell, a politeness born of earned self-esteem is also Blindy's strong suit in public. He too says "thank you" each time to the young man who gives him a quarter from his jackpots. He stays "at the far end of the machines" (494) so as not to drive away any new patrons, and he is politely grateful to Frank for allowing him to stay the night ("That's mighty good of you" 495) and for offering him a drink, accepting with a "Yes, sir" (495) and a formal toast. As for the mentor/code hero of the story and his patience, wisdom, generosity, business savvy, and deference toward Blindy, especially in the matter of Blindy's correct name--all these I have already alluded to as elements of Frank's persona.
And so both short stories converge dramatically on these common themes: age, the consolation of light, a conservative viewpoint toward money, the loss or diminishment of sexuality, aloneness, the deprivation of physical powers and beauty, lurking depression and despair, violence (here eventually attenuated), the lifelong need for dignity and self-esteem, spiritual bonding among men, and the wisdom of age duly earned. In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" the abundance of naturalistic detail, some of it unpleasant, does not undercut the dignity of movement in the text and most readers come away "unusually stirred," as Sean O'Faolain once put it (112). A "dignity of movement" occurs, perhaps arguably, in "A Man of the World," especially if the reader perceives the overall movement toward amity and tranquility in the narrative and if he or she acknowledges that the tall-tale part of the story, the two paragraphs in which Frank and Blindy respectively recount the brawl, represents action that is prior, off-stage and verbally reprised to suit the occasion.
There is much in age that is a "nasty thing." But the older subjects in both these stories face it with exceptional dignity, some with more (the older waiter and Frank) and some with less (the old man and Blindy). The adversities that confront the latter, perhaps even the greater flaws in their characters (Blindy's sadistically violent nature and the old man's brooding aloofness) diminish their heroism. In the case of "A Man of the World," Blindy's durably happy and fun-loving disposition is a partial counterweight to the increased dross of violence that weighs down his heroism. It's a dicey trade-off that Hemingway made late in his career, making "A Man of the World" appear to be a "final, sardonic comment on the boxer-brawler" and clouding over the unexpected similarities between this story and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." Ironically, the less despairing of these two short stories comes just four years before that fateful 2 July 1961 date. The singular event of that day in American letters prevented Ernest Hemingway from experiencing the aspects of age he had creatively prefigured in these two short stories.
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