As someone grows older they tend to wonder what they truly have in life. The fear of old age is the ideal that they will be alone. The old man in "A Clean Well Lighted Place- is a lonely character who has no one close to him left in this world. Even the young waiter tends to alienate the old man when he forces him to leave early, so he could return home himself. Companionship can be a basic need that no one can live without.
As the two waiters talk, we the reader learn that the old man has tried to hang himself and end his life. We can see that the old man is ready to move on and tired of being alone in this world, with this attempted suicide. According to Ken Ryan, in his review of Joseph Gabriel, he pointed out what the attempted suicide meant, "Y.W. "What about, O.W. Nothing .
(chaos, meaninglessness)- (29). We also know that the old man is not hurting for money and has a dignity about him from the way the older waiter observes him, "The waiter watched him go down the street, a very old man walking unsteadily but with dignity- (160). The Hemingway review points out the old man's dignity, "He slowly counted the saucers, took a leather coin purse from his pocket and paid for the drinks, leaving half a peseta tip- the exchange is proper, exact, accurate, even given the old man's inebriated condition."" (9) Even with his money and pride the old man is not satisfied, he is still searching for more, someone to share his drinks with and enjoy companionship. .
As the two waiters talk the young waiter makes mention that he does not want to become like the old man, that he thinks it is a nasty thing, "I wouldn't want to be that old, an old man is a nasty thing- (160). The young waiter thinks very little of the old man, and tries to push out of the café, saying he has other places to drink at, just get out of this one. The young waiter says he wants to get home to his wife at a decent time, but his actions and thoughts suggest he just does not want the old man around.