A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

by: Ernest Hemingway

The Younger Waiter

Characters The Younger Waiter

Brash and insensitive, the younger waiter can’t see beyond himself. He readily admits that he isn’t lonely and is eager to return home where his wife is waiting for him. He doesn’t seem to care that others can’t say the same and doesn’t recognize that the café is a refuge for those who are lonely. The younger waiter is immature and says rude things to the old man because he wants to close the café early. He seems unaware that he won’t be young forever or that he may need a place to find solace later in life too. Unlike the older waiter, who thinks deeply—perhaps too deeply—about life and those who struggle to face it, the younger waiter demonstrates a dismissive attitude toward human life in general. For example, he says the old man should have just gone ahead and killed himself and says that he “wouldn’t want to be that old.” He himself has reason to live, and his whole life is ahead of him. “You have everything,” the older waiter tells him. The younger waiter, immersed in happiness, doesn’t really understand that he is lucky, and he therefore has little compassion or understanding for those who are lonely and still searching for meaning in their lives.