Essay

Hemmingway

Life sucks, does it not?Life is nothing and everything in life is meaningless.Perhaps there are a few things that can distract the mind and guard from the inadequacies of life, but in the end all fades away.Nothing lasts forever.While all the somethings are dying and fading, nothing is still there.Sure, one can search for meaning and think happy thoughts, but throughout the struggle everyone is alone and slowly spiraling down the path to despair.In “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” Hemingway uses the concept of nada, characterization, and the setting to emphasize the idea of human life being full of nothing.

To understand the story, one must understand that nothing is actually something (Benson 24).Hemingway substitutes the word nada, a Spanish translation for nothing, which is one-word description for both a lack of meaning and for all the irrational forces that infringe upon the human self (Hoffman 31).Some live in Nada and never know it but eventually some reach a dreadful realization and they fear that “it was all a nothing and a man was nothing too” (Hemingway 3).Everything is nothing and nothing is everything as this life holds no true meaning for mankind to comprehend.

Yet still there are men who realize Nada and become sleepless in their unceasing search for meaning (Warren 20), although “it is probably only insomnia; many must have it” (Hemingway 4).These men create a dilemma in which they wish for meaning but live in a world of spiritual emptiness (Bache 22).Yet if there be meaning to discover, these men can find it, for only through the awareness of nothing or non-meaning can meaning be created (Benson 25).To find something, man must confront and realize the presence of nothing, but such a realization often leads to a loss of hope.

Thus “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” despite its title, becomes a tale of human pessimism and despair (Benert 28).The story is concerned with “age, death, despair, love, the boredom of life, two elderly men seeking sleep and forgetfulness, cast into an hour and a place whose silence and emptiness creates a sad mood in which patience and futility feebly strive with one another” (O’Faolain 24).Why does the old man attempt suicide?“He was in despair.What about?Nothing” (Hemingway 1).The nothing that drives the man to kill himself is.