A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

by: Ernest Hemingway

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
1. “Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the café.”

The older waiter makes this comment near the end of the story when he and the younger waiter are about to leave the café, and it reveals his own loneliness and despair. Until this point, the old man seemed to be the only one who wanted to stay at the café, but now the older waiter seems to need the café as well. A few lines before this, he reveals that he is someone who likes to stay at cafés late into the night, so his reluctance has two meanings. First, he understands why the old man and others may want or need to stay late, and he keeps the café open as a gesture of kindness and generosity. Second, he himself needs the café, so he is reluctant to close it because he, like the old man and others, will then be without a place to sit and wait out the night. While the younger waiter is rushing to get home, the older waiter leaves the café sadly, once again displaced and alone.