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Existentialism in American Literature I must find a truth that is true for me the idea for which I can live or die Sfren Kierkegaard Being the first acknowledged existentialist Kierkegaards ideas set the standards Existentialist ideas are based mainly on the individual his plights and his confrontations Ernest Hemingway another existentialist and author of A Clean Well-lighted Place shows multiple examples of this philosophy in his work The universes indifference to humanity an emphasis on individualism and a focus on death and its role in human life are all ideals represented in the story During the early portion of the short story a discussion about an old mans suicide attempt occurs Because the waiter has no compassion for the old man he expresses his disregard for this mans life He should have killed himself last week Hemingway 30 The waiter even relates his feelings to the old man You should have killed yourself last week Hemingway This clear disregard for human life represents the universes indifference to humanity and existentialist belief Along with the universes indifference to humanity an emphasis upon death is shown through the elderly mans suicide attempt The waiter tells how he would rather be dead than to become an old man I wouldnt want to be that old An old man is a nasty thing Hemingway 31 This seemingly insensitive remark is telling of the acceptance and normality of death in humanity Death is inevitable existentialists accept Lengen 2 this fact An emphasis on death and its role in human life is a theme of existentialism and is depicted in Hemingways short story Amid the death and indifference a sense of individualism is present The old mans attempt upon his life again shows the freedom of choice that individuals possess There is no obvious reason for his suicide attempt other than his own choice The waiter informs his companion that the old mans financial standings give
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