In Hemingway's A Clean, Well-Lighted Place the concepts of darkness and light help one understand Hemingway's code hero and theory of nothingness. The code hero drinks excessively. He has love affairs with numerous people. He evades death because death is the termination of everything. Therefore, this fear of death makes the dark a very difficult place for the characters of Hemingway's novels.
The waiter in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place has the common characteristics of Hemingway's hero. The waiter places a magnitude of importance on working. This is his reward that he obtains in life. This leads to his devotion to a physical pleasure, drinking. However, he does not appreciate careless drunks. He admires the old man who is drinking because he is clean, has dignity, and possesses a strange form of courage. He talks very seldom talks. He is a man of action. He is a loyal man towards his customers and his café. He also fears death and thus fears the night. .
The waiter attempts to stay away from the night. Night is like death because at night one is supposed to go to bed. Awareness is eradicated when one goes to sleep. "It symbolizes the utter darkness that man will have to face after death."" Instead of sleeping he stays up all night drinking, making love, or working. In this case, the waiter says that "He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would only go to sleep."" He believes that he suffers from insomnia. This is a typical action of the code hero; he will only think of sleep at daybreak. .
Light also plays an important role in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. He is one of "those who need a light for the night."" He does not like to close the café because he feels that there are others out there who need a place like the café, which is well lighted. This fear of night obviously makes this waiter place an emphasis on light. Light diminishes the omnipresent threat since darkness is symbolic of death.