In Hemingway's short story, point of view is dispersed between two waiters observing a solitary regular customer. Hemingway's symbolic use of opposition between light and dark also touches upon the central theme of maintaining dignity in old age. Point of view and symbolism are the key literary devices in both the Mansfield and Hemingway stories used to relate the theme of loneliness among the elderly.
"Miss Brill" is told from the heroine's point of view in the stream of consciousness style of writing. By using this style, Mansfield is able to create an in depth view of the heroine's personality without ever relating a detail about Miss Brill's own life ("Ms. Brill"). Instead, the reader must rely upon the main character's impressions of those around her to create a sense of understanding about Miss Brill. It is apparent from the story that this Sunday outing is a very important part of the heroine's weekly routine. Miss Brill looks forward to each Sunday as a chance to observe those around her and although she does not speak to anyone at the concert, she becomes a part of their lives by eavesdropping on conversations carried on around her. Mansfield writes, "She had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn't listen, at sitting in other people's lives just for a minute while they talked round her." These little clips of other's lives give Miss Brill a lot of pleasure, as she is able to engage the real world relationships through her imagination.
Two waiters working at a caf share the point of view in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place". The two waiters present differing opinions regarding a deaf older man who regularly spends his evenings at the caf. The young waiter is impatient to close early and go home to his wife, while the older waiter would prefer to keep the caf open as late as the customer wants to stay. By using the opposing ideas, Hemingway sheds light onto the ability of the older waiter to relate to the customer, while the younger behaves only out of accepted social politeness towards the old man ("Clean"). The relation between the customer and the older waiter is further demonstrated when he assumes first person narration at the end of the story. He is capable of putting himself in the place of the customer and can also feel his pangs of loneliness. Hemingway writes, "'We are of two different kinds It is not only a question of youth and confidence although those things are very beautiful. Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe.'" The older waiter understands that this caf is a safe haven for the old man and that people such as this particular customer may need a quiet, well-lighted place for safe haven. The other waiter does not share this sentiment with his fellow worker and therefore creates the two contrasting viewpoints in the story.
Both Hemingway and Mansfield present the same theme in these two stories but use different points of view to tell different perspectives. In Mansfield's story, Miss Brill's point of view is uniquely hers and is helped by the use of her creative imagination. Through Miss Brill's perception of the lives of others, it is apparent that she is lonely, but only she knows this as no one else is consulted for their opinion. In contrast, the two points of view presented by the waiters