An Invitation to Night Hawks

“The shadows drew footprints of deceit to lure me into a mirage of light” ~ Kihek

This excerpt will exemplify describing images based on interpreting from different perspectives and content.

I will be reviewing a painting by Edward Hopper, the Nighthawks and I’ll be using the characters as an entrance to different viewpoints.


The night seems quiet. Dark shadows crawl on walls and street lights act as torches in dark alleys. I see a woman holding a cigarette slightly away from her lip as she exhales with despair. The makeup around her eyes is laid upon each other to give off a scent of sorrow. Her shoulders are bent to an angle. Part sad; part reaching out to these that give a listening ear. The gentleman sitting beside her carries a dull face as he holds his cigarette and holds a conversation with the bartender. The third gentleman sitting across seems to be eavesdropping on the conversation. He won’t mind adding a few contacts to his lowly night.

In order to avoid confusion among the characters in the painting; I will associate them with names. The woman will be called Jane, the gentleman sitting beside her is George. The second man sitting across is Fred. The name of the bartender is Henry.

Jane’s story looks as though she let herself get lost in the nightlife. She decorated herself with dark eye shadow and red lipstick; so that people might not easily recognize the face underneath, and in hope to attract a partner for the night. But she also carried her burdens to the café as she sat and lit her cigarette through the night. She could also be a waitress or play a similar role that requires her to work at night. Her release of stress is found by sitting down with deep exhales and meaningless conversation.

George must have walked into the café and noticed Jane with her coffee. As the name of the painting ‘nighthawk’, the men came out to prey on victims, in this case, women they are attracted to. And it can also go vice versa, where the woman motive is to seduce the man into her coven. However, the conversation between George and Jane does not seem engaging. The two individuals are portrayed as people that co-exist but have no chemistry nor interest for each other. And they are looking to Henry to gear the conversation.

Fred has the same attire as George. Perhaps the two men are work colleagues, or there may just be in the same profession. The clothing could be a symbol of a uniform usually attached to a profession or social class or identity. Fred might be part of the conversation, however, the illustration represents Fred as an observer in the scene.

Henry is represented with white clothing, like a source of light, or rebirth. The New York street is gloomy and people may come to the café for a moment of bliss or a place to connect with other individuals. Life here, in general, is lost in the shadows and the café could have been a destination for contributing to conversations, meeting people and possibly distress.

What do you see?




Does this resonate with you?

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