When reading a short story many people take the details given to be the unconditional truth. This is probably why so many of these people are confused or repulsed by a story like “The Black Cat.” Throughout the story, the narrator makes numerous contradictions. These contradictions, combined with his actions make me doubt the legitimacy and truth of what he says.
In the first few paragraphs of the story, the narrator makes a point of rejecting the idea that he is mad. It almost seems as if he goes out of his way to reassure readers that he is indeed sane. It was at this point that I first got an inclination that the narrator was unreliable, either because he is insane, or just lying. The average person who reads the story will most likely find his insistence that he is sane to be odd, or just outright wrong. That is to say, “sane” people, at least in the conventional sense of the word, do not hang their cat because “it loved them” and they “knew that they were committing an unforgivable sin”. The narrator is like other people in that he recognizes that killing a cat is an unforgivable sin, but the fact that this is not a deterrent, but rather a reason is where he passes from the realm of the sane. In fact, the narrator himself understands that his actions were horrible, assuming he was telling the truth. For example, when he first mistreats his cat, cutting out its eye in a drunken rage, he expresses “shame” and “disgust” at his actions. Even if he was lying he is at least sane enough to realize that most people would consider his actions to be maniacal. In light of these realizations, I have to rule out the possibility that he is a raving lunatic. He is clearly functional enough to write a detailed account of the events. He writes the story as if it is not him in the story. He speaks as though he is a different person than the man in the story. Perhaps he is, in a way. Maybe he truly was in a blind rage. At any rate, he shows some... [continues]
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