A Clean Well-lighted Place - Work questions
Comment on this passage:
Last week he tried to commit suicide, one waiter said.
He was in despair.
What about?
How do you know it was nothing?
He has plenty of money.

Free indirect speech, materialistic / American attitude, (Ellen, Julie, Majlund)
Money = Happiness

Nadia KH, Malek & Christian

  • One of the waiters believe in materialistic needs
  • The other waiter sort of watches in numb? Just asks.

Besare, Trine, Martin:
The waiter thinks, that money can buy everything, therefore the old man didn’t have any reason to commit suicide, if you look at it from the waiters point of view. The young waiter equals money with happiness. He is very materialistic.

Describe the two waiters’ feelings towards the old man. Do they feel the same way about him? Why not?

They don’t feel the same. One man dislikes him, and his drinking habits, and wants his shift to end quickly, the other understands and sympathizes. (Ellen, Julie, Majlund)

Mikkel Michelsen, Rasmus Vestberg og Louise Bidstrup:

Young waiter: no empathy with the old man, materialistic

Older waiter: understands why the old man wants to sit in the shadow of the leaves

- One of the waiters(young one) is materialistic, he doesn’t think the old man has problems because he is rich.
- The other waiter (old one) seems interested, and maybe a little bit worried about the old man, maybe that is why he asks.

The old waiter shows compassion towards the old man. His job is a big part of his life, which makes the customers seem more important to him. The old man and the old waiter also has more in common. In contrast to that, is the young waiter more concerned about his own life. He shows no interest towards the customers – he pays most interest to his family.

Characterise the two waiters. What are the differences between the two?

The rushing waiter has a family waiting at home, and the other doesn’t have anything but the job. (and insomnia) They are like the two extremes of each side. (Ellen, Julie, Majlund)

Mikkel Michelsen, Rasmus V. og Louise B
Old: “never had confidence”, “you have everything” (to the young waiter), wants a clean and well-lighted café – not a bodega
Differences: age, in a hurry to get home, wanting to close off the cafe

Nadia KH, Malek & Christian

  • The young waiter has a clear meaning about the old man. He doesn’t like him. Impatient, in a hurry. Family minded. Inconsiderate. He is the most disgusted by him:“You should have killed yourself last week”, p.2 9-10 “He must be eighty years old”p.2 26, “I wish he would go home.”, “He’s lonely. I’m lonely. I have a wife waiting for me in bed”, “A wife wouldn’t be good to him now”
  • The old waiter understands the old man better. Considerate about the old man. Compares himself with the old man. Has empathy. “He stays up because he likes it”, “You can’t tell. He might be better with a wife” p.3 5-8

- They are from two different generations, the old one seems to understand why the old man sits and drinks all night, while the young one doesn’t understand it, he argues that there are plenty of bars the old could go to. The young waiter just wants to go home, to his wife in his bed. The old waiter wants to stay, because he is lonely and can't sleep. The young waiter is respect less, because he walks up to the old man and tells him that he should have killed himself.Besides that, then he comes of as being somewhat immature since he don't seem to care for others, which makes the old waiter seem much more caring. Even though he might just be fearing that the old man could be himself one day(if not already).

Besare, Trine, Martin

There’s an age difference. They are on different states of their lives. The young waiter has a wife and a family. The old waiter don’t have any close family, which makes his job seem more important to him.

They have been raised in different centuries with different values. These values have been transferred to their adult lives, and makes them act in different ways and be concerned about different thing. It also make them focus on different things – the young waiter is f. ex. very materialistic.

Young waiter: Impatient, busy, family-minded, inconsiderate towards the old man, respectless (tells the old man, that he should have killed himself), he’s disgusted with the old man, he’s annoyed by the old man and wants him to leave,

Old waiter: More patient and considerate, envies the young waiter, lack of confidence, he can identify with the old man, has empathy towards the old man, he thinks that the old man should have clean and light place where he can have a drink with dignity, the old man suffers from insomnia.

Mie, Emilie & Maja:
The young (first) waiter is not concerned about the old man and him trying to kill himself, he on the other hand wishes that he had killed himself instead of drinking in the cafee all night long – he represents the materialistic modernism. The older man represents the past – He is worried for the old man and questions the tale about the old man trying to kill himself.

Read p.5, ll. 5-15 carefully and then discuss the significance of:
  • Light, cleanliness and order – the way the café is described, the old waiter thinks of the world as this big nothing, a simple chaos, where the café is a safe and orderly place. Light in the dark.
  • Nothing/Nada: Nada resembles the nothingness and an existential angst about his place in the world.
  • The prayer: Resemble his none religiousness
He is pessimistic.
Those three things are very important to him, and cleanliness is something that seems to equal having a clean soul to this guy.
“Nothing” compliments his negative point of view, and he seems somewhat taoistic: “Before the world, there was ‘nothing’. When the world ends, ‘nothing’ will reign once again.Only people to let go of positive things can go free of negative things aswell.” – kind of guy. (Ellen, Julie, Majlund)

Nadia KH, Malek & Christian
  • Light, cleanliness and order
    • it is the light of cause; ll. 6
    • certainly you don’t want music; ll. 7
    • a little order; ll.
  • Nothing/Nada
    • everything is one hell of a mess, nothing, but some light, order and cleanliness diverse us from the mainstream and might help us get our course straight.
  • The prayer
    • salutes our mainstream life as the big nothing it is. No different from the man passing you by; united in the same common plight.

  • Light, cleanliness and order

In a world of chaos, he needs this cleanliness and order in his café. The light symbolizes hope. It could be something religious, like walking towards the light. It is important to him, that his café is a decent place to visit – he fears that he will someday end up like the old man, and then he would like if there was a clean and well-lighted place for him to visit.

  • Nothing/Nada

In contrast to the light, nada could be the darkness, which is the same as nothing in his mind. He doesn’t think, that there is a higher power. He isn’t religious and does at some points feel that life is meaningless. He is kind of afraid of this nothing. He fears loneliness. Maybe he even fears ending up like the old man in the café.

  • The prayer

Mikkel Michelsen, Rasmus V. og Louise B

Light, cleanliness and order:

Important to the old people in the text – need a safe place – he belongs there

The young waiter doesn’t need light and cleanliness – he just wants to go home


The older waiter starts talking about life meaning nothing/nada

The waiter seems to like “nada” and like having “no meaning” with his life

Even though he doesn’t have this “everything” like the young waiter, he is happy

Look at the overview paper from yesterday. What makes this text modernist in your view?
- The free indirect speech.
- Top of the iceberg principle
- Minimalistic simple writing
- Never clarifying - the messages can only be read between the lines

Slight progressivism: He writes about an old man that drinks too much, has too much money, no family, and deaf.
Use of free indirect speech, juxtaposition of characters (waiters), intertextuality (bible), (Ellen, Julie, Majlund)