View Full Version : English Literature Class (2)

28-09-2010, 09:43 PM
Assalam Alaikum,

In this post we will talk about Modernist Age, Hemingway's style and His short story A Clean Well Lighted Place (http://www.oneurdu.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80231). Afterward we can discuss it more if you like.

Hemingway is a Modernist Author, therefore, here I am briefly reviewing age of Modernist writers first.

The term stands for the activities and output of those who felt the "traditional" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world. Aftermath of the world wars, the rise of trade unionism, a general social discontent, and the emergence of psychoanalysis were the major reasons behind the significant changes in the ways of expression.

Modernism rejected the concepts of certainty and self assured ways of the thinking nurtured by previous age of Enlightenment. It also questions the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator. Although all modernists did not necessarily rejected religion or all aspects of Enlightenment thought. But they all somehow rethink it all. Therefore, self-consciousness is a powerful force leading towards self expression. This often led to experiments with form, and work that draws attention to the processes and materials used and that is why Modernist literature did not only deal with all new, twentieth century subject, it also portray in all new syntax and style.

Different features of Modernism underlining the artistic expression of this age could summarize as follow.[source Wikipedia]

Thematic characteristics:
Breakdown of social norms
Realistic embodiment of social meanings
Separation of meanings and senses from the context
Despairing individual behaviors in the face of an unmanageable future
Spiritual loneliness
Rejection of history
Rejection of outdated social systems
Objection to traditional thoughts and traditional moralities
Objection to religious thoughts
Substitution of a mythical past
Two World Wars' effects on humanity

Stylistic characteristics :
Free indirect speech
Stream of consciousness
Juxtaposition of characters
Wide use of classical allusions
Figure of speech
Anti phrases
Unconventional use of metaphor
Symbolic representation
Discontinuous narrative
Multiple narrative points of view

28-09-2010, 09:44 PM
Hemingway is a true representative of his age, as his writings distinctively portray all these elements throughout his work.

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was a Noble Prize winning(1954) modernist American author and journalist. He produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. Many of his works are classics of American literature. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works during his lifetime. While three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published after his death.

Subject & Style
Hemingway is famous for his distinctive writing style, which as compared to earlier writers is very straight forward, bare yet filled with understatements and vividly photographic. He influenced 20th-century fiction with his writings as well as his spirit of adventure and a celebrated public image. Hemingway's characters are captured with a great deal of reality and authenticity.

For Complete biography and work details check this article.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (http://www.oneurdu.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80231)

Hemingway's short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is first published in 1926 and was later included in his 1933 collection, "Winner Take Nothing"

James Joyce once remarked: "He has reduced the veil between literature and life, which is what every writer strives to do. Have you read 'A Clean Well-Lighted Place'?...It is masterly. Indeed, it is one of the best short stories ever written..."

The Story
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place starts with a a quiet scene of an outdoor cafe around midnight. A deaf old man, sitting at a table under a tree, slowly drinking. He is a frequent customer there as the waiters talk about him, and his unsuccessful attempt to suicide last week.

Old man keep drinking, and one of the waiter gets impatient and tells him that he should have killed himself last week. Latter waiters keep talking about the old man's suicide attempt. The younger waiter, who says that he never gets to bed before three o'clock and that his wife is waiting for him, seems especially angered at the man's continued presence. It seems the old man is very lonely and has no remaining family except his niece, who cut him down from the rope with which he tried to hang himself the previous week.
Throughout the conversation, the young waiter continues to insult the old man, calling him "a nasty thing." The older waiter defends the senior, however, saying that he is clean and dignified in his drunkenness.

Finally the young waiter, the waiter with a wife, forces the man to pay the bill, and soon the man leaves. Cleaning up, the old waiter tells him that he identifies with the old man's desire to stay up all night drinking, feeling the need to keep the café, a clean, well-lighted place, open for anyone who needs it.

Now alone, the old waiter continues his train of thought, deciding that life is meaningless. He recites to himself the Lord's Prayer, removes all references to God and replaces them with "nada," the Spanish word for "nothing."

On his way home, the waiter stops at a bar, telling the bartender that the bar is unpolished, reminding himself of his disdain for bars because they aren't the clean, well-lighted places. He leaves the bar, knowing that he will not get to sleep until dawn. He tells himself, "it is probably only insomnia." "Many must have it."

Hemingway only uses three real character and four reference character. Old man, Old waiter and Young waiter are present in picture. The Soldier and his companion girl, bartender of second cafe and old man's niece are just there as reference.

He portray his characters with precision and brief details. Characters describe themselves with their actions and words.

Can you write at least three things about any of the character you find in the story. Brief three sentences will be enough.

Metaphor of A Clean Well lighted Place
The main metaphor in this story is the title itself. the clean, well-lighted place. To Hemingway, it was much more than the physical darkness that frightened him. The symbolic darkness of reality is unbearable at times. As a modernist and a realist he believed the ultimate purpose of life was to discover such a clean, well-lighted place to escape from the darkness of the world. At the same time he was trying to fight back with the dark meaninglessness of the life.

So light represents any device man uses to distract himself from the darkness. The story's image of the lighted cafe in the city of dark nothingness perfectly symbolizes Hemingway's nihilistic view of a world with no hope except for the one we create for our self.

28-09-2010, 09:57 PM
Theme of Nihilism
Hemingway's theme in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is a theme that runs through all of his literature: there is no God, no meaning to this world, and man must find something to distract himself from this horrible truth. For the older waiter, a clean, well-lighted cafe is such an escape. This is an artificial light, made by man for himself as the only way to step out of the darkness of reality because life is filled with nothing meaningful.

This completely nihilistic worldview glorifies individuals, like the veteran waiter (who pass judgments on unpolished second cafe) and the elderly drinker,(who is staggering with dignity) both find a method of coping with life's hardships in a graceful, dignified manner. Though the old man is drunk, he isn't rude or unruly, but polite and well behaved. Despite the obvious hardships in his life (since he attempts suicide), he doesn't lose his courage, but stays in control of himself, exhibiting grace under pressure.

Hemingway Ironically used Lord's prayer and first lines of Hail Mary in the story replacing different words with single "nada". That is another key to the story. Try to read that part with the real Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary in front of you. Tell me in few lines which elements of Modernism you find in changed prayer or chants.

Lord's Prayer Original(Catholic)
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[The 1928 BCP adds:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.]

Hail Mary
Mary full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
for thou hast borne Christ the Saviour,
the Deliverer of our souls.

Hemingway's Version
Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada [then nothing]. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.

30-09-2010, 01:02 AM
thanks Rafia for your great effort. I will try my best to do the assignments on time. the paragraph where the word nada comes repeatedly was a bit difficult to understand for me but i will read it again to have complete understanding.

30-09-2010, 05:31 AM
nada really means 'nothing' right so if we replace ever nada with nothing this will be the result:

Our nothing who are in nothing, nothing be your name your kingdom nothing your will be nothing in nothing as it is in nothing. Give us this nothing our daily nothing and nothing us our nothing as we nothing our nothing and nothing us not into nothing but deliver us from nothing; pues nothing [then nothing]. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with you.

This Lord's prayer is one of the most popular Chirstian Prayer, and trusted too. Same as Hail Mary is also widely read Hymn. Why any one will replace certain words of a prayer with 'Nothing'? What can be the thinking process? What is his point of view to see the world?

30-09-2010, 08:42 PM
thanks rafia its really helpful now i get the meaning.

Durre Nayab
01-10-2010, 01:00 AM
Thanxs Sis, I have a question.
As I haven't read much about Hemingway's life therefore it is difficult to see wether he was practising Atheism or was he so much in despair to see life's misery and hopelessness to question God's existence. As you mentioned that he used Nada as an irony in Lord's prayer.
Can you elaborate more in Hemingway's theme of Nihilism as to understand him better.

01-10-2010, 03:09 AM
Nayab sis, I am planning to elaborate this, once we are done with the second story too. But there are some general characterstics of the age he wrote in: Modern Age. Therefore if you just see in that background you can find some clues. Here my main idea is to know the intentions of the author just with the help of the text, because it shows a lot. we will discuss more once some of us have posted the questions i asked to write.

As far as about nihilism, that is the main idea of Modern Age. but then i am practically telling you what i asked you. Think.

Durre Nayab
01-10-2010, 03:34 AM
As far as about nihilism, that is the main idea of Modern Age. but then i am practically telling you what i asked you. Think

yes that i have already realized, thats why i asked more about it and ive seen quite afew Modern characteristics as well beside Nihilism.Infact little bit of all the above mentioned types of characters.

01-10-2010, 05:22 AM
yes sis, there is more. And one more thing, a writer also writes about the characters they meet in life, not always relating to them, but feeling them. For Hemingway, however, this is true that inspiration comes from the firsthand experience. Still first we will try to see society in his work rather than writer himself.

Durre Nayab
05-10-2010, 03:18 PM
Here are my assignment.
Younger Waiter:
He is young and has life of his own.
He has a job a home and a wife who wait for him at night.
He is full of confidence.

Old waiter:
Some how relates himself to the old man.
Like the Old man he is scared of dark, loneliness and uncertainity.
One who waits until morning and then goes to bed.

Old man:
He is very Old and deaf.
Tired and fed up of his lonely life and anxious to end it.
Despite drinking he’s a dignified and a proud man.
There are quite a number of modern writing characteristcs.
The main was Nihilism, others are
Despairing individual behaviors in the face of an unmanageable future
Spiritual loneliness
Rejection of history
Two World Wars' effects on humanity

05-10-2010, 05:46 PM
great work Nayab ji.
Now where is rest of the class. :)

05-10-2010, 05:59 PM
Assalam Alaikum . i am here :)

05-10-2010, 07:37 PM
I would like to say something about the character of the old man in the short story . In my opinion he has a kind of personality in disguise. It means that he belongs to a good respectable and rich family but loneliness in his life, has brought him to the stage where he is hiding his loneliness in drinking. But drinking has not carried his dignity away because he has not forgotten to pay for his drinks which drinkers normally do not do. It is the same loneliness which push him to commit the attempt of suicide.

PS I will be really grateful if you can do corrections so I am careful next time.

06-10-2010, 01:58 PM
I have written few lines about young waiter.Young waiter is well informed.As he knows about the old man who tried to commit sucide.He knows the time of street guards when they come.Young waiter is full of zest for life and dislike old age.he has youth confidence.

06-10-2010, 02:07 PM
This is my second assignment.Disillusionment due to second world war and spiritual hollowness are very prominent charectristic in this poem.Nihilism and loneliness also found in it.

19-10-2010, 06:46 PM
Asslam-o-allkum, i am here today.