"You have youth, confidence,
and a job,” the older waiter said. "You have everything.”
I think these words reflect the very gist of the
story, the message the author wanted to refer to the reader. When we are young
and ambitious, everything seems so easy and effortless. We can’t believe that
one day we will be desperate and lose our heart. One never realizes what it
would look like to be old and abandoned, to be a squeezed orange, so to say.
Youth seems to be everlasting, interminable, ceaseless.
Hemingway runs upon this eternal question with
the utmost care. He creates vivid images, thought-provoking dialogs and scenes
which tell their own tales. The central figure of the story, an old man who is
said to have tried to commit suicide, comes to a café at a very late hour. He
is a little drunk, but he doesn’t intend to stop – he asks for a glass of
brandy, then another one, then more and more. He seems to be well-to-do, but
appears to be very lonely and hopeless. This symbolic character even doesn’t
say much to the waiters; he is mortified, his feelings and emotions are deeply
buried inside him. He used to have a family; all he’s got now is a niece who
came in time to cut a rope when he made up his mind to hang himself.
And the only person who managed to make way
through the jungles of this man’s soul is a waiter who is getting along in
years as well. It is he who can conceive what bothers the man’s heart, what
pushes him to seek for ‘a clean,
well-lighted place’ – the only refuge for a human being when everything is
darkening around him. In fact, such a person becomes surrounded with nothing – nada.
"Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is
with thee”, silently prays the waiter because he knows what means to be
ageing, to be alone, to be straining after the light like a small flower
thrusting between the hard stones.