I made some changes to the essay. Can you proofread my essay? This is suppose to be a compare and contrast essay between the meaning of Hulga's belief in "nothing" and the meaning of "nada" in Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." I am having trouble structuring the compare and contrast part within the essay. What are your suggestions? Thanks for the help!
Nothing is defined as something that does not exist, or has no value or importance to someone. However, having nothing does not necessarily mean one does not have a physical object. It could be that one lacks a certain sentiment or shows little interest towards someone or something. Evidently, the definition of nothing depends on the situation. In the short stories, "Good Country People" and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," Flannery O' Connor and Ernest Hemingway explore the meaning of nothing. Connor examines the meaning of Hulga's belief in "nothing" while Hemingway examines the old waiter's meaning of "nada." These characters' different personal life experiences individually influence their definition of "nothing" or "nada."
Hulga's experience with a physical disability and poor health are factors of her definition of "nothing." Hulga's nothingness is developed from not only her difficult experience from childhood to adulthood, but also her isolation and different life style as a result of her condition. For example, Hulga is perceived differently. Hulga's mother sympathizes, "...poor stout girl in her thirties who had never danced a step or had any normal good times" (103). As is evident, Hulga's appearance affects her mother's perspective of Hulga. Hulga's condition makes her mother see Hulga as a child, rather than an adult. In this manner, she belittles and makes Hulga feel that she is helpless, which makes Hulga desire nothingness. As a result, she is "...bloated, rude, and squint-eyed" (103). Nevertheless, Hulga's condition exempts her from her vulgar manners, as she is left feeling helpless and frustrated. The only solution for Hulga to find stability is to be "rude" and in constant opposition to everyone's perspective. She appears rough on the outside, reflecting how much she is hurting in the inside. Hulga must live each day with the reality of her condition and be specially treated like a child, since her infirmity partially immobilized her.
Hulga's uneasy life at home is also another factor of her definition of "nothing." Hulga's mother does not praise her for her achievement. She feels that her daughter is a disappointment, explaining, "You could say, 'my daughter is a nurse,' or 'my daughter is a school teacher,'...You could not say, 'my daughter is a philosopher'" (104). Along with living life with an artificial leg and a weak heart, Hulga does not have parental support in what she does. Rather than being happy for Hulga's occupation, her mother criticizes it for its lack of practicality. In this way, her mother further lowers Hulga's self-esteem and self-worth, which makes Hulga want nothing. As a result, Hulga's concentration on her high education is used as a compensation for her poor health, physical loss, and a lack of a sense of belonging. Feeling that she cannot do anything about her leg and heart, Hulga believes that her brain is the only thing that she can control. When Manley Pointer kisses her, she feels, "...the power went at once to the brain...she was pleased to discover that it was unexceptional experience and all a matter of the mind's control" (110). By being able to have control of her brain, she feels that she is not powerless and is capable of something. Moreover, she allows herself to feel that she has something, her dignity and identity.
Through Hulga's narrow perception of life, she presents her definition of "nothing." Despite the control she can exert from her brain, Hulga's focus is limited to her thoughts. Because her mind is not broadened, she lacks experience. Therefore, she allows herself to be ignorant of the world. Hulga bluntly states, "I don't even believe in God" (110). By being an atheist, she is believing in nothing. Thus, Hulga would not live a life of faith only to be rejected by others and be embittered. Hulga's ignorance of the world is further established when narrator says, "She didn't realize he had taken her glasses but this landscape would not seem exceptional to her for she seldom paid attention to her surroundings" (112). Hulga's unawareness of her surroundings is a way for her to be not part of anything. By not confronting her surroundings, Hulga can dismiss its presence and rejection. Hulga states, "I'm one of those people who see through to nothing" (112). Hulga does not have anything to look forward in her life. Her leg and weak heart exclude her from the workforce as well as society. Her life at home is unpleasant. Hulga and her mother do not relate.
On the other hand, the old waiter's many years of life experiences allows him to define the word "nada." The old waiter's conversation with the younger waiter about the rich and old deaf man reveals much about the old waiter's knowledgeable life experiences and how that influenced his definition of the word "nada" or nothing. The younger waiter with a wife comments on the deaf's man lonesome. The old waiter says, "He might be better with a wife" (97). The old waiter, who has more life experiences than the younger waiter does, understands life is lonely without companionship. Regardless of a person's age, sharing moments with another person help vanish the feeling of loneliness or "nada." In the deaf man's case, spending his nights in the café is the same as finding company. Hemingway describes, "In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference" (96). The deaf man, who does not hear anything, is able to relate to the muteness of the peace and quiet of the night. Unlike the night, the day is filled with people and loudness, which does not communicate across to the deaf man comprehensively and provide him comfort. The older waiter then says to the younger waiter, "You have youth, confidence, and a job...I have never had confidence and I am not young" (98). Through the old waiter's long life, his confidence is gone and his youth has faded. The old waiter establishes the idea of being striped away and having "nada" or nothing as time goes by. The meaning of "nada" is also revealed as the old waiter prays, "Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada" (98). Throughout the Lord's Prayer, he replaces some of the words with nada, which makes this prayer a prayer in hope to reach from nothing to something.