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Cat in the Rain – Critique/Summary
The story “Cat in the Rain” written by Ernest Hemingway is about a couple that stay in Italy. The woman in the story sees a cat abandoned outside in the rain under a table and wants to get him and bring him into her hotel room. When she finally convinces her husband to let her go out and get him, it is gone. She returns to the room with out a cat and her husband is still propped up on a pillow reading his book. He insists she lay down and read a book, when she starts talking about how much she wants a cat, how she wants it to be sitting in her lap as she brushes her hair. A short while later one of the hotel workers who helped her try to find the cat the first time had discovered his presence and bought him to her
Only two Americans are in the hotel. Their room faces the sea, a public garden, and a war monument. Many Italians come from far away to see the monument. That day, it is raining, and the American wife is looking out the window. She sees a cat under a table that is trying to keep dry. She tells her husband that she is going to get it. He tells her not to get wet. Downstairs, she is greeted by the hotel operator, whose seriousness and willingness to please she adores. When she goes outside, he sends a maid after her with an umbrella. She does not find the cat. She goes back upstairs feeling sad. She asks her husband if she should grow her hair out. He says that he likes it the way that it is. She decides that she wants a bun at the back of her neck, and a cat to stroke, and a table with her own silver, and some new clothing. He tells her to shut up and to find a book to read. She says that she still wants a cat. Just then, someone knocks at the door. It is the maid. She has brought up a cat, at the request of the hotel operator.
Who are the characters in Cat in the Rain and characterizations?
The main characters in this Hemingway story are an American couple--George and his unnamed wife--an Italian padrone (hotelkeeper), and a hotel maid. The couple is on vacation in Italy, and they are stuck in their hotel room on a rainy day. George is depicted as indifferent to his wife's needs and desires; she wants to rescue a cat she sees out in the rain, but he makes no move to help her. Instead, he remains lying on the bed as he reads a book. Virtually the only time he pays much attention to her comes when she expresses a desire to grow her hair long so she can wear it in a knot; he prefers that she keep her hair short "like a boy's." The wife is restless and bored. She doesn't want to read; she wants to rescue the cat, which she seems to resemble, because she even says, "It's no fun being a poor kitty out in the rain" after she has made an attempt to retrieve the cat with the assistance of the hotelkeeper who has directed the maid to hold an umbrella to shield the wife from the rain.
The couple is unhappy, particularly the wife, who expresses a yearning for things feminine (brushing her hair, her own silver, candles, tablecloth) but mostly she wants the cat. It seems she wants something to hold that will respond to her affection because her husband is unresponsive and unattentive. Her litany of desires may even signal a desire for a baby that would also love her, but the possibility of conceiving a child seems remote because George's most direct comments are "Shut up and get something to read" and "I think you think look pretty darn good" in response to her wish to grow out her hair. He is more interested in his book than he is in her. The wife, on the other hand, appreciates the way the hotelkeeper makes her feel important and special. Outside their hotel room, their view includes a war monument, which may represent the subtle battle being waged in their room.
Hemingway's style is terse and to the point. Easy to read, his writing is often misinterpreted as simple or even simplistic. This writer, however, ascribed to what he called his "iceberg theory" in which he declared seven-eighths of what he meant to convey was beneath the surface, just as the same percentage of an iceberg is submerged. Read the story carefully for clues to the characters
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