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"cat in the Rain" - a Journey Through Enlightening Perceptions

Essay by   •  May 25, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,722 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,640 Views

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The short story "Cat in the Rain" by Ernest Hemingway bears much more significance than the exact cat in the rain. Ernest Hemingway's unique style of writing changed the world of literature. His best writing came out of the 1920s. He went to Paris during this time and had a part in World War I (World Biographies). With each short story Hemingway writes he puts a lot of his own experiences in them. He leaves a distinguishing impression on each short story he writes. Hemingway uses a lot of dialogue when he writes in order to show a story, not just tell a story. His short story "Cat in the Rain" is set during the 1920s in Italy.

This short story explores an American couple staying in an Italian hotel. It is raining outside and the American wife sees a cat trapped in the rain, which she wants to protect. When she goes outside to get the cat she encounters the hotel keeper, an old Italian man, who wants nothing more than to please and protect her. Once she is outside she cannot seem to find the cat. She then returns to the hotel room upset, and tries to strike up a conversation with her husband George, who is constantly reading. She tells him how much she wants a cat as well as other things. His annoyance and lack of interest in her embodies their dysfunctional relationship. The young American woman is sad and lonely, wanting love and protection. At the end of the short story the maid brings the American woman a cat as per the hotel keeper.

What is the significance of the American woman, and why should we care about her? What symbolism does the cat have? Hemingway writes in such a way to answer such questions by showing us a story by using symbolism, dialogue, and motifs. Every story gives off an important message to the world by showing how each character is influenced by culture. In this story the author elucidates how 1) a woman needing protection and freedom, 2) the ideas of a proper marital relationship, and 3) a girl becoming a wife and a woman affects the theme of isolation and longing.

"Cat in the Rain" is simple in plot and character, but an observant and attentive reading reveals a much deeper meaning. The American wife's pursuit to save a cat from the pouring rain becomes a more intricate statement about her frustration and her isolation from human comforts. This rendering of the wife confines these mind-sets which many women can identify. The cat is a symbol around which the story revolves. The cat in this story serves as a foil, which is a minor character that sheds light on the protagonist (the main character). As a vital symbol, the cat reveals the emotional state and expressive desires of the American wife. One instinct that people commonly turn to in matters of feeling neglected, is the instinct of the comfort, in the form of healing, which comes from animals. The American wife describes the cat as being a "poor kitty [stuck] in the rain" in which she desires to have so much (Hemmingway 101). She sees herself as being "stuck" and not being able to have any fun; this shows her lack of freedom. She wants to care for the cat and identifies with it and its need or protection. The thought of freeing the cat reflects her own wanting to be free.

When the American wife sees "a cat...crouched under one of the dripping green tables" and talks to her husband about it, he offers his help, but only from the bed (Hemmingway 100). This proves George's (the American wife's husband) lack of caring and helpfulness. George does not provide his wife with any attention, which allows her to feel lack of freedom to express herself and her feelings. More significantly, the "cat was trying to make herself so compact so that she would not be dripped on", which also resembles the American wife, because George puts a restraint on her (Hemmingway 100). However, she never speaks up about this, but rather simply feels it. Therefore, she feels the dire need for protection and freedom.

What seems to be just an ordinary rainy afternoon spent together by an American couple, serves as a great allegory for their relationship. An allegory is a tale that serves as an extended metaphor. The relationship between this couple is dysfunctional and in a predicament. This story starts off in a depressing mood with the description of the bad weather and of the couple's isolation. There is first a description of the environment in good weather, then a description of the transient situation in the rain. This description creates an atmosphere that is cheerless, cold and unfriendly. To create this tone Hemingway uses words such as "empty" or "the motorcars were gone" (Hemmingway 100). By looking at the connection between the two Americans, you can see that this picture was foreshadowing the condition of the couple's relationship. First it was pleasant, and now there is only rain. Another symbolic insinuation is the war monument, which is mentioned multiple times. This shows us that a conflict is to be expected.

The American wife is a victim of marital

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