This problem is clearly revealed in the story “A clean, well-lighted place” written by Ernest Hemingway. The message of the stories is carried to the reader through three main characters: the young and old waiter and the old man. The young waiter is impatient and is indifferent to the reasons that keep the Old Man coming to the café and getting drunk every night: “You should have killed yourself last week…”- he says to the Old Man. On the contrary, the Old Waiter is capable of understanding it: “Why didn’t you let him stay and drink?”, knowing that it is not the same to drink alone and desperate at home.
The Old Man represents the old generation that has no other goal in life now, except to live in memories. He does not find acceptance in the world around him: “I wouldn’t want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing”. Nevertheless, does everything with dignity. Even when the young waiter makes his leave he remains “a very old man walking unsteadily but with dignity”. He is very lonely and the fact that he tried to commit a suicide is just another acknowledgement of his unhappiness. This café has become the only place where he still feels “a real man”, and the only place he can suppress his loneliness. That is the reason he spends so much time in the café, which is different from the other bars and is defined as “a clean, well-lighted place” by the old waiter.
The Young waiter is not able to sympathize with other people because he is egoistic. He does not care about anything but his very own life. “I have confidence. I am all confidence” he exclaims. He regrets that the Old man is not dead only because he wants to go to bed early.” Stop talking nonsense and lock up” - is his reply to the attempt of the Old waiter to explain the reason the Old man strongly needs this place.
The Old waiter understands the Old man. And he is actually very similar to him. “Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the café”- he says. He himself is in a desperate need of a place to stay throughout the night and drink. And not every place is suitable for this, because in order not to be lonesome he needs the light, for “the light is very good and also… there are shadows of the leaves.”
The generation gap has always been enormous, but still the young generations should be more patient and have more respect to the elderly and their lives. The elderly in return may be more open to the new youth. What goes around – comes around. And who knows, may be some day the Young waiter is going to be the one looking for “a clean, well-lighted place”.
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