In order to understand symbolism, a reader must learn that it is a non-superficial representation of an idea or belief that goes beyond what is “seen.” Earnest Hemingways “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” uses symbolism to help convey the theme of Nihilism, the philosophy that there is nothing heavenly to believe in. It discusses that there is no supernatural reason or explanation of how the world is today. Three symbols: the soldier, the cafe, and the shadows of the leaves, found in Hemingways short story clearly displays this Nihilistic theme.
The first clear display of Nihilism by the use of symbols is the brief passage description of the soldier passing the cafe with the prostitute. This imagery symbolizes that love and romance has been degraded to a level of “anonymous” sex. Nihilism ties into this fact that since there is no longer any form of pure love, why should a person believe in it Hemingway uses an excellent form of symbolism to help convey this thought in referring that the street light shone on the brass number of the soldiers collar. The passage about light, which represents safety, is
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