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Feline Companionship in Cat in the Rain

Feline Companionship in Cat in the Rain

I chose to write about Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain” in part because it is one of the few of his stories I have read which has an “ending.” There is a specific event at the end of the story which wraps up the story’s events and gives the reader a sense of finality not found in most of Hemingway’s short works. Written in his characteristic sparse style, “Cat in the Rain” is seemingly simple in plot and character, but a careful reading reveals deeper meaning behind its elements. The American wife’s quest to save a kitty from the pouring rain becomes a more complex statement about her frustration and her isolation from human comforts. I think the portrayal of the wife captures these feelings which many women can recognize.

In the first paragraph, the theme of isolation is introduced, as the author tells about the American couple on foreign soil with no friends or acquaintances. He also describes the beautiful park below the window and the many people who come to enjoy it, only to add that it is now raining and the wife may only look out the window and dream. The wife soon sees the poor cat, getting drenched in the rain and feels sympathy for it. Her reading husband is indifferent to her discovery, except to volunteer half-heartedly to get the cat (most likely to keep her from complaining). The woman can not seem to connect with her husband, who treats her almost like an annoying child, as much as with the pathetic cat outside.

As she ventures out of the room to rescue the cat, she first passes the hotel-keeper in his office. In a series of parallel phrases, the author describes the hotel-keeper, or padrone, and what the woman likes about him. This passage sho…

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…he husband’s complacency about his wife and her desire for respect, admiration, and emotional fulfillment. A related but more direct contrast is between the husband and the padrone, who represent the status quo and the desires of the wife, respectively.

In the final few paragraphs, Hemingway mentions that it is getting dark outside, and later that “it was quite dark and still raining in the palm trees” (170). Then, just before the maid comes to the door with the cat, a light comes on in the square. The amount of light seems to correlate with the hopes of the wife and the chance she has to change her situation. The light near the end is a signal for the arrival of the cat, a gift from the hotel-keeper. The reader is left to wonder whether the woman will demand more respect from her husband now that she has experienced a feeling of importance and self-worth.

Mirror Images in Cat in the Rain

Mirror Images in Cat in the Rain

The opening paragraph of “Cat in the Rain” presented itself as a vivid painting, with Hemingway being the artist mentioned (Hemmingway, 167). This was the first in a series of mirrors that Hemingway placed in this short story. Reading this story was like being placed in a mirrored room, each mirrored wall being an element of the story reflecting upon another.

The reflection of Hemingway and the painter in the first paragraph was the first parallel that the reader is presented. However, unlike the inanimate paintings produced by the artists in the garden of the hotel, the nature of the images in Hemingway’s painting changes throughout the short story. The description of the setting served more purpose than just setting the mood for the surface plot. The overall changes that occurred in the imagery was in accord with the condition of the American couple’s relationship. The outside of the hotel was initially described as it would be in good weather, but gradually rain was set into the image. The dreary rain seems to lag through most…

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