The story, "A Clean, Well-Lightened Place," by Ernest Hemingway had its first publication in 1933 and is based on a characteristic terse style. It is a story that involves two waiters who are in a deep conversation within the working place (cafe) before departing for home (Hart n.p). It is noted that they are unable to take leave following the existence of customers within the cafe. A funny thing ensues in their thoughts; one is concerned about the old man who is a customer within the cafe, he sympathizes with him while the other wishes to leave work and go to his wife at home. The sympathy can be quoted when the old waiter says, "this old man should go home and stop drinking." The different thoughts they anchor makes them question the actual meaning of life. The subsequent accounts within the story bring to different light themes, such as those of loneliness, despair, escape, and nihilism to mention but a few. As such, there exist a connection between the story and that of Susan Minot known as Lust. Lust is one of the greatest works which are valued by many literary scholars because it is pegged on the relationship that remains unclear between the protagonist and other men in the pursuit of education in a boarding school. The themes of the story can, therefore, be noted to explain the painful ambivalence of a young lady who faces different odds in the process of becoming sexually active particularly concerning the early 1970s.
The protagonist who also doubles as the narrator is not ready to conquer the pressure that comes from the desire of men even as the birth control exist as a fundamental liberator in complying with the sexual desires of the young men. She is opined to lack an idea about her sexual needs, an issue which may help her in complying with those of her boyfriends. It is also at this point that the title of the story becomes more sensible; the author demonstrates the primary divide between the female and the male desire based on the choice of the title. The choice of the title also becomes a key issue that explores the psychological complexities of sexual needs. A quote that proves this account is noted when the narrator says, "We began sited at the end of the couch and progressed until our feet were against each other." Looking at the time in which the story was authored, a fact remains that the sexual roles of a woman then, have changed based on the advent and introduction of the birth control pills, an issue which has led to the loosening of strict supervision. The young generation in the story are opined to engage in different activities; they drink, smoke pot, and engage in sexual intercourse with casualness, something which astounds their parents (Minot n.p). The author's intent is, therefore, inclined towards providing proof of the psychological dangers which are brought by such activities and also shed light on the possible emotional harm which may come into picture when a young lady fails to picture who she is. Minot also attempts to ascertain the meaning of opening heart; she tries to comprehend what it might mean when a person prefers to offer sexual favors to his boyfriends but cannot open her heart to them. In the end, a tie is established between Susan Minot's work, "Lust," and that of Ernest Hemingway, "A Clean, and Well-Lightened Place." They both questions the meaning of life hence sharing in some themes as will be noted herein.
Looking at the two books from the thematic aspect, it becomes evident that they compare because everyone is stuck with the question of life. What is the meaning of life? How should one live comfortably? These questions are addressed differently hence bring the aspect of the struggle of dealing with despair. The story "A Clean, and Well-Lightened Place," by Ernest Hemingway looks at the situation between the old man and the older waiter in the cafe (Hart n.p). The duo is fixed in their thoughts on how they can deal with despair but the methods they device do not cure it but rather subdues. Subsequent events within the story inform of the old man having money but still that has not been enough to cure his problem. Other things that we come to learn about include the old man being married, but no longer has a wife because of the problems. His only way of dealing with the problem is isolating himself to a quiet place, for example, the cafe which is always clean where he could hear no one pass-by considering that he was deaf and remain undisturbed for a longer duration. As such, he was always sure of maintaining his space in a private world where there existed little or no interference. The older waiter also shows that people should not use religion as a way of solving despair. For example, in his prayer, he mimics the word "nada, nada" instead of invoking the name of God to opine that he agrees with the old man's mechanism of solving the problem. He is also particularly on the kinds of cafe he can stay or work in, his descriptions match those of the old man.
The same struggle of dealing with despair in the bid of realizing the actual meaning of life continues to show in Susan Minot's story on Lust where the protagonist does not know much on how to deal with her sexual challenges. She is under despair following the sexual advances made to her by the boyfriends but does not know how to deal with them. The issue still exists even though she is under birth control and may fulfill the boyfriend's sexual desires, but that is not enough for her situation (Minot n.p). She needs to know who she is and what she wants. These are questions that we find the protagonist and the author dealing with in keeping the flow of the story. We realize that in trying to find the meaning of life, both the stories show how characters device temporary mechanisms of dealing with their problems even though they fail to work. In the end, we come to realize that knowing the meaning of life or dealing with despair cannot be equated with material things, for example, the old man was not able to use the money he had in changing his situation, the protagonist in Lust was also not able to solve her problems through the channels she took. The solution for both started with them acquiring peace of mind as noted herein.
In summary, the two stories can be compared based on how they bring out their thematic concepts. Even though they take different dimensions and characters in making known their case, it is explicit that the issue of despair and the struggle to deal with it in a bid of finding out the true meaning of life takes center stage for both.
Hart, James D., and Clarence Gohdes. America's literature. The Dryden Press, New York, 1955.
Minot, Susan. Lust: & Other Stories. Open Road Media, 2010.
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