A Clean Well Lighted Place
In Despair about Nothing
Man is often plagued by the question of his own existence. Existentialism is a subjective philosophy that is centered upon the examination of man?s existence, emphasizing the liberation, responsibility, and usually the solitude of the individual. It focuses on individuals finding a reason for living within themselves. The philosophy forces man to make choices for himself, on the premise that nothing is preordained, there is no fate. Men must find a truth in themselves, a truth that they must be able to live for. Existentialism is in harsh contrast to a belief in a higher power or a god. “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is a story by Ernest Hemingway about men in successive stages in the philosophy of existentialism, revealing ultimately how the philosophy will fail them.
Nothingness is a condition man is faced with when his life has no meaning, when there is no reason to exist. It is the hollowness or emptiness man experiences when he feels that his life has no significant meaning. If there is nothing to believe in, then life is nothing. The older waiter in the story recognizes the existence of nothing: “Some lived in it and never felt it but he
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