The short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," written by Ernest Hemingway, is about two waiters in a Spanish café who are discussing their last customer of the night, an elderly and lonely drunk man. Hemingway uses a writing style that is straightforward and rarely incorporates adjectives, but his story is loaded with symbolism.
"A Clean Well-Lighted Place," is a classic example of Hemingway's style, brief and direct, like something you would read in a news article. A typical example of the author's style is showcased in the following exchange between the younger of the two waiters and the old man, "The old man looked at him. 'Another Brandy,' he said. 'You'll be drunk,' the waiter said. The old man looked at him. The waiter went away" (Hemingway). Hemingway does not waste words in this story. The most descriptive part of the story is in the first sentence or two when he wrote, "It was late and everyone had left the café except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty; but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference" (Hemingway). Although these opening lines fail to paint a clear picture of the setting for the audience, they do construct a vague feeling of something that begins to resemble a setting. .
Hemingway's "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" possesses quite a bit of symbolism. The title and description of the café focus on the lighting. Light is the opposite of darkness, a major theme in the story. So the light serves to protect the old man and others like him from the darkness, which could be loneliness or depression. We know that the old man is depressed because of the following dialogue, " 'Last week he tried to commit suicide,' one waiter said.