Riva Perdana Sidi
January 7, 2015
A Same Pattern between Character and Setting in two Hemingway’s Stories.
Setting in a story has the main function in order to describe the readers what’s look like the story takes place and when the story happened. Even though, some authors just in the natures of Ernest Hemingway also use the setting as the component which has so many relation with the certain character. This condition will bring out an unconscious harmony to the readers of the short story, mainly the lay readers. Moreover, we can also see that in his two short stories, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” and “Old Man at the Bridge”, there are two repeated pattern that related with setting and character.
The first similarity pattern in these two short stories is the way Hemingway using uncommon setting for unusual and strange person, the Old Man. Hemingway was trying to create a kind of harmony by pairing the character and the setting which has so many same characteristic. Actually, we can also see that it is not only the Old Man who lived in that unusual place. Unconsciously, the character who criticize and can’t understand why the Old Man choose that uncommon place to stay, actually, also stay in that place which become the second similarity pattern in these two short stories. This second pattern also related with the character’s status, the one who had the job would criticize the character who had not a job even, they are in the same or even in the worse condition unconsciously.
The first pattern, using uncommon setting for unusual and strange person, in Hemingway’s “Old Man at the Bridge’’ is happened in a moment when an Old man sat at the bridge. A place that linked two places, but in the even that we take another perception, actually, bridge is not a place but just an intersection between the two places. It such a rare thing if someone stayed for quite long time there while common people just walk and cross it. In the nature of the bridge is, the character in Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man at the Bridge’s”, which is the Old Man, also has some same characteristics with the bridge’s are and this thing makes a kind of harmony in this story. The Old Man was completely has no direction, principle and lost nowhere just like the bridge. It also implied when “I” in this story asked in regards to what politic he has, he answered that he has no politics (Hemmingway 61). Just like the bridge, the old man was in the intersection, in the middle of two choices but he didn’t choose anything and just sat down at the bridge and still lost and has no principle. If we see in another point, we can also see that the people around the Old man just walked over the bridge but nobody stay there. They did it because they are not lost people and have direction where they want to go. Some of them still have a family or someone who wants they meet and it makes them moving on to the other places.
That pattern was repeated by Hemmingway in “Clean, Well lighted place” in the moment when the old man “sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light”, implied that he tried to alienate himself from the others and choose uncommon place. There were a lot of empty table that had the light, but he chooses the darkest one just like what happened in his old life (Hemmingway 231).
Somehow, the Old man in “Clean, Well lighted place” story choose the uncommon place also at the uncommon time. He prefers to come to the bar very late in the time every customer in that bar was going home. This setting, which is setting of time, also indicates the harmony with the character. On the occasion of narrator told that dew settled the dusty street because the night, it seems rather the old man did the same thing with the night (Hemmingway 231). The old man was trying to cover the truth that he becomes a nasty, lonely and deaf old man by the time just in the nature of the night cover the dusty street with its dew.
A paradox thing which become the second pattern in these two short stories was happened in Hemingway’s “Old Man at the Bridge’’ when “I” as the narrator in Hemingway’s “Old Man at the Bridge’’ told to the Old Man that bridge is not a good place to stop. (Hemmingway 61). But, actually the narrator also stayed in that place, even worse than the Old Man, because he stayed at the bridge not based on his desire. He had to stay at the bridge, a nowhere place, because it was his duty as a soldier to watch and secure the bridge. Actually similar with the Old Man, as a soldier, he had to do his duty even his duty was contradicted with his “truly” politics or his conscience. At least, The Narrator as the soldier also “lost”, just like the Old Man did, because the politics he has was not selected by him but by his military alliance and his duty as a soldier.
This paradoxical pattern also used in Hemmingway “Clean, Well – Lighted place” in a moment when a young waiters in a bar criticize the Old Man’s bad habit. Stayed in the bar in the sleeping time. When the other people stayed at home with their family. The young waiters feels so compassion but also feels so fed-up to the Old Man. The older waiters told to the younger waiters that he, the young waiters, had an ideal life. He is still young, had a job and also family. But actually, the young waiters has the same condition with the Old Man, the person that he hate and he grade as an old man who has a lonely and bad life. The young waiters also stayed up late in the bar, just like the old man though with another reason. Even, the young waiters had a worse life if we compare objectively with the Old Man because, the Old Man stayed up late in the bar with his will and felt so enjoyed and happy to stayed up there, while the young waiters had to stayed up there because it was his job and he did it forcedly.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The
Finca Vigia Edition. New York : Scribner, 1987.