A Moveable Feast

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Cafés Symbol Analysis

Cafés Symbol Icon

Cafés are a hugely important part of the book, and much of the action takes place within them. Hemingway explains that there are many different types of cafés in Paris, some pleasant and some repellent, some “private” and some social. Hemingway frequents different cafés based on his mood, sometimes going to them in order to work and sometimes to socialize over food and drinks. While working, he orders a café crème or sometimes an alcoholic drink and he watches the people around him. Various people inspire Hemingway as he writes, including the beautiful woman he sees in the first chapter whom he feels “belongs” to him and even the young man who, despite harassing Hemingway, builds Hemingway’s momentum as he writes. The café culture in Paris highlights the way in which art, work, pleasure, socializing, and critique are all mixed together, creating a vibrant culture that straddles the public and private spheres. Although not everything that takes place in cafés is a positive memory, Hemingway’s depiction of the café culture of Paris at the time is deeply infused with nostalgia.

Cafés Quotes in A Moveable Feast

The A Moveable Feast quotes below all refer to the symbol of Cafés. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of A Moveable Feast published in 2010.
Chapter 1 Quotes

No one emptied the Café des Amateurs though, and its yellowed poster stating the terms and penalties of the law against public drunkenness was as flyblown and disregarded as its clients were constant and ill-smelling.
All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the high white houses as you walked but only the wet blackness of the street.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Alcohol, Cafés
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

In the book’s opening passage, Hemingway introduces the bad weather in Paris and the Café des Amateurs, a sad, crowded, and dirty place. He describes the café as the “cesspool” of the neighborhood, but adds that unlike a real cesspool, the Café des Amateurs is never emptied. Hemingway’s comparison of the clients at the Café des Amateurs to human waste is rather cruel, and it introduces his tendency to be disgusted by people—a tendency that reoccurs throughout the book. Hemingway’s description of the Café des Amateurs is also a distinct contrast to that of other cafés, which Hemingway characterizes as warm, inviting, and delightful places. This juxtaposes Hemingway’s happy and successful life in Paris against a backdrop of a far more wretched and miserable population.

Indeed, this passage illuminates the theme of happiness versus sadness, suggesting that sadness is built into the physical existence of Paris, particularly during the dark and wet winter. Hemingway thus suggests that emotions like happiness and sadness are, to some degree, more an environmental, collective experience than an internal and personal one.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other A Moveable Feast quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 8 Quotes

You got very hungry when you did not eat enough in Paris because all the bakery shops had such good things in the windows and people ate outside at tables on the sidewalk so that you saw and smelled the food. Then you were skipping meals at a time when you had given up journalism and were writing nothing that anyone in America would buy, explaining at home that you were lunching out with someone, the best place to do it was the Luxembourg gardens where you saw and smelled nothing to eat all the way from the place de l'Observatoire to the rue de Vaugirard. There you could always go into the Luxembourg museum and all the paintings were heightened and clearer and more beautiful if you were belly-empty, hollow-hungry. I learned to understand Cezanne much better and to see truly how he made landscapes when I was hungry. I used to wonder if he were hungry too when he painted; but I thought it was possibly only that he had forgotten to eat. It was one of those unsound but illuminating thoughts you have when you have been sleepless or hungry. Later I thought Cezanne was probably hungry in a different way.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Cafés
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage opens the chapter entitled “Hunger Was Good Discipline,” in which Hemingway explains that, although his poverty means he is often forced to go hungry, there are actually positive elements to this experience. The title of the chapter initially suggests that hunger forces Hemingway to write in order to earn enough money to eat, but the actual content of the chapter—including this passage—slightly contradicts this notion. Hemingway is evidently somewhat resigned to the fact that he is “writing nothing that anyone in America would buy,” and he seems to have accepted hunger as an inevitable aspect of his life as a writer, rather than something he must fight against.

On one level, hunger separates Hemingway from the world around him—he must lie to his friends about going home for lunch and he cannot go into the cafés and eat the delicious food that taunts him with its nice smell. However, hunger also connects him to the artistic world of Paris in a more fundamental way. Due to the side-effects of intense hunger, Hemingway feels a sense of euphoric sensual connection to his environment, and particularly to the paintings at the Luxembourg museum. Furthermore, Hemingway’s hunger places him in a lineage of artists and writers who were forced to go without food in order to create work. In this sense, hunger allows Hemingway to “understand Cezanne much better,” and leads him to conjecture that Cezanne must have been hungry, too.

Paris Sketches 7 Quotes

Everyone had their private cafés there where they never invited anyone and would go to work, or to read or to receive their mail. They had other cafés where they would meet their mistresses and almost everyone had another café, a neutral café, where they might invite you to meet their mistress and there were regular, convenient, cheap dining places where everyone might eat on neutral ground.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Cafés
Page Number: 203-204
Explanation and Analysis:

Hemingway has explained that he often takes his young son Bumby to cafés where Bumby sits silently while Hemingway works. Bumby enjoys watching people while sitting in the café, and here Hemingway explains that everyone in Paris has different kinds of cafés, which they frequent for different reasons. Although it is clearly an overstatement that “everyone” has a café where they go to meet their mistress or to work, this statement emphasizes the sense of community that arises through café culture.

It also illustrates the way in which cafés are a kind of hybrid space between private and public life. Many of the activities people pursue in cafés are rather private, from opening mail to eating to meeting a mistress. However, cafés are obviously public places where there is always a chance of striking up a conversation with a stranger or running into someone you know. Indeed, Hemingway at times seems to struggle with finding a balance between working in cafés and avoiding unwanted interruptions. No café is ever truly “private,” even if one is less likely to see people one knows there. However, this risk of interruption seems to be made worth it by the advantages of working in such a bustling, stimulating environment, wherein one is surrounded by the inspiration of other people’s existence.

Get the entire A Moveable Feast LitChart as a printable PDF.
A moveable feast.pdf.medium

Cafés Symbol Timeline in A Moveable Feast

The timeline below shows where the symbol Cafés appears in A Moveable Feast. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: A Good Café on the Place St.-Michel
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...fall, with cold rain and wind pulling the leaves from the trees. He describes the Café des Amateurs, which is a “sad, evilly run café” filled with people who are drunk... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
At the café, Hemingway is writing about Michigan, and he reflects that it is useful that the weather... (full context)
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...because I did not know Paris well enough.” Hemingway finishes the oysters and leaves the café; back home, his wife Hadley says that his plans sound “wonderful.” She says she would... (full context)
Chapter 2: Miss Stein Instructs
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
When Hadley and Hemingway return to Paris it is “clear and cold and lovely.” Cafés are open with heated terraces, the streets are beautiful, and the fire in Hemingway’s apartment... (full context)
Chapter 3: Shakespeare and Company
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...agree to walk down to the River Seine together, have a drink at a new café, come home and eat, read their books, and make love. Hadley adds “and we’ll never... (full context)
Chapter 8: Hunger Was Good Discipline
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...have enough money to eat, and during this time he gets exceptionally hungry because the cafes and bakeries of Paris are filled with food that looks and smells delicious. Sometimes Hemingway... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...novel will finally guarantee that he and Hadley can “eat regularly.” Hemingway goes to a café, orders a café crème, and writes a story about “coming back from the war” that... (full context)
Chapter 9: Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Hemingway lives near a café called the Closerie des Lilas, which is one of the nicest cafés in Paris. In... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...Ford goes, a friend of Hemingway’s arrives and Hemingway claims that another man in the café is Belloc. However, the friend replies that it is not Belloc, but rather Alestair Crowley,... (full context)
Chapter 10: With Pascin at the Dôme
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...Hemingway keeps walking down the street, feeling happy. He recognizes several people he knows through café windows; these people tend to frequent the big cafés where no one will notice them.... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...three of them drink, and Pascin scolds one of the girls for “modeling” in the café. He flirts with the girls, exchanging dirty talk. Hemingway says he has to leave, and... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Man Who Was Marked for Death
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...back to America, but he replies that he is doing well in Paris, working in cafés and going to the races. One girl looks at Hemingway’s clothes—his “café outfit”—and says that... (full context)
Chapter 16: Winter in Shrums
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...young family leaves Paris during the cold winters. Before Bumby Hemingway would happily work in cafés during the winter, but he feels it is not right to bring a baby to... (full context)
Chapter 17: Scott Fitzgerald
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
Scott and Hemingway talk about the café they are in and about Scott’s recent writing. Scott wants Hemingway to read The Great... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
...has not provided details of where he is staying in Lyon. Hemingway goes to a café and has a drink with a professional fire-eater, who then takes him to a cheap... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Birth of a New School
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Hemingway describes the atmosphere of writing in a café—the notebooks and pencils, marble tables, and smell of a café crème. He has a rabbit’s... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...replies, “too bad.” Hemingway asks the young man to remember not to come to the café when he is working, and the young man replies that he won’t. Hemingway thanks him.... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...hit the young man, but admits that he wouldn’t have hit him “at my home café.” He considers that it might be his own fault if other people interrupt him while... (full context)
Paris Sketches: A Strange Fight Club
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...to “look after” Larry while he is in Paris. Hemingway and Larry meet at the Café Napolitain; Hemingway notes that Larry is “very nice” and that he has enormously long hands,... (full context)
Paris Sketches: The Education of Mr. Bumby
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Hemingway spends a lot of time in cafés with Bumby while he works. Bumby comes to Austria, but when Hemingway and Hadley go... (full context)
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
After Bumby sees Scott drunk at the Place St.-Michel café, he asks Hemingway: “Monsieur Fitzgerald is sick Papa?” Hemingway explains that Scott drinks too much,... (full context)