A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Young Waiter Character Analysis

The young waiter, the antagonist of the story, is a server in the café with the old waiter. He is brash and callous toward the old drunk (a patron at the café) because he wants to get home to his family instead of staying at work. He even tells the old drunk (who is deaf) that the man should have killed himself the week before. During conversations with the old waiter about the old drunk, the young waiter betrays his naive attitudes about growing old, saying that an “old man is a nasty thing” and suggesting that the old waiter is simply talking nonsense by trying to empathize with the old drunk’s suicide attempt. The young waiter thinks that his time is more valuable than the two older characters’ time because he spends it on things that he thinks matter. Thus, after refusing the old drunk another drink and reducing the old waiter’s conversation points to “nonsense,” the young waiter exits the café and goes home.

Young Waiter Quotes in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

The A Clean, Well-Lighted Place quotes below are all either spoken by Young Waiter or refer to Young Waiter. 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:
Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place published in 1987.
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Quotes

“Last week he tried to commit suicide,” one waiter said.
“Why?”
“Because he was in despair.”
“About what?”
“Nothing.”

Related Characters: Old Waiter (speaker), Young Waiter (speaker), Old Drunk
Page Number: 288
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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“I wish he would go home. I never get to bed before three o’clock. What kind of hour is that to go to bed?”
“He stays up because he likes it.”
“He’s lonely. I’m not lonely. I have a wife waiting in bed for me.”
“He had a wife once too.”
“A wife would be no good to him now.”
“You can’t tell. He might be better with a wife.”

Related Characters: Old Waiter (speaker), Young Waiter (speaker), Old Drunk
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I wouldn’t want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing.”
“Not always. This old man is clean. He drinks without spilling. Even now, drunk. Look at him."

Related Characters: Old Waiter (speaker), Young Waiter (speaker), Old Drunk
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“What is an hour?”
“More to me than to him.”
“An hour is the same.”

Related Characters: Old Waiter (speaker), Young Waiter (speaker), Old Drunk
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“You have youth, confidence, and a job,” the old waiter said. “You have everything.”

Related Characters: Old Waiter (speaker), Young Waiter
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Young Waiter Character Timeline in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

The timeline below shows where the character Young Waiter appears in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
Despair Theme Icon
The old waiter tells the young waiter that the old drunk tried to kill himself last week. When the young waiter asks... (full context)
Youth and Age Theme Icon
Despair Theme Icon
The old drunk waves the young waiter over and asks for another glass of brandy. The young waiter is reluctant to serve... (full context)
Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
When the young waiter returns to his colleague, he asks again why the old drunk tried to kill himself.... (full context)
Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
The young waiter remarks that the man must be eighty years-old, and then he complains again about the... (full context)
Youth and Age Theme Icon
The old drunk looks up from his glass in the direction of the young waiter and asks for another brandy. The young, hurried waiter walks over and says, “No more... (full context)
Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
The older waiter asks the younger waiter , “Why didn’t you let him stay and drink?” The young waiter replies that he... (full context)
Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
Once the young waiter leaves, the old waiter continues the conversation with himself, wondering why he feels fear when... (full context)