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Lecture 1: A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

by: Mariam Nagi

Lecture 1: A Clean, Well-Lighted Place ENG110

Marketplace > University of Toronto > Arts and Humanities > ENG110 > Lecture 1 A Clean Well Lighted Place
Mariam Nagi
University of Toronto

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Notes from the lecture.
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mariam Nagi on Saturday September 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENG110 at University of Toronto taught by Scoville in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see Narrative in Arts and Humanities at University of Toronto.

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Date Created: 09/24/16
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Ernest Hemingway Narrator: the being/voice that tells the story; a character the author develops. Author: actual person who creates the story. What kind of person is telling the story, to whom, about what? Persons in Narrative: 1 Person: This kind of narrator tells his own story. It’s from his own point of view. Ex: “I did this.” 2nd Person: This kind of narrator tells the narratee’s story. This is the rarest kind of narrator. Ex: “You did this.” 3rd Person: This kind of narrator tells a character’s story. Also known as third person. Ex: “She did this.” The narratee is not the same as the reader. The narratee is a person/people the author imagines is talking to. When we read a story, the story tells us to imagine ourselves in that setting. The author is targeting a specific audience, whoever they might be, but is also informing the rest of the readers to try and step into the shoes of whoever he is addressing. The narrator, narratee and characters are all entities in a story. How much does the narrator know about the story? Sometimes the narrator is in the story; his knowledge is limited. Sometimes the narrator is hovering above the story; his knowledge is almost divine, then, omniscient. He knows the events of the story, the characters’ thoughts, etc. How much does the narratee know? Same as with the narrator. Hemingway is known for his simple prose style. By conveying just what is needed, the narrator becomes invisible. We can think of the narrator as a character, even if he’s not in the story, because the narrator has his own voice, characteristics, etc. Even though the narrator is invisible, he is still complex because of the way he changes focus. He starts out with an objective statement of external fact – describing the setting outside the café. He reports what is visible. He then becomes subjective, also looking into the characters’ heads, their thoughts. He is an omniscient narrator. There are things the narrator doesn’t tell us. He steps so far back into the story that we don’t even know which waiter is speaking when. This non-interference creates confusion. Through this absence, Hemingway is making a point that isn’t directly stated. There are two waiters – a young man and an old man. The young man has no fears and lives his life rashly. The old man has an existential fear of ‘nothingness’, the sense of confusion and wandering around without guidance. This lack of guidance in the narrative serves as a way for Hemingway to make us experience what the old waiter is going through. We feel confused as we read this story because we don’t know who is talking, and when. This sense of confusion is what the old waiter feels, too. Hemingway is giving us an experience of what he is writing about via the narration itself. In the story, the clean, well-lighted café is a place of retreat from this ‘nothingness’. It can also be said that the café is the place for guidance. That’s why the a clean, well-lighted café is so important for the old waiter and he can appreciate others staying late, because it’s a kind of sanctuary from the bleakness of reality.


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