_Cat in the Rain_ was written by Ernest Hemingway in 1925 while living in France and it is probably his best made short story. Formally and economically, this story is structured as a classic ballet.� _Cat in the Rain_ is, on the surface, a simple tale of an American couple in Italy. This paper will deal with the issues of marriage and loneliness in the story.
With the introduction of a single paragraph, Hemingway has set out the background or the setting of the story, which might be important. From the very beginning of the story many boundaries related to space are drawn. These boundaries eventually provoke sense of isolation. The couple is isolated on a cultural level being the only American couple in an Italian hotel: "_They did not know any of the people they passed on the stairs on their way to and from their room_."� This isolation may signalize that they are about to experience a crisis in their marriage. "_War monument_" is a symbolic hint, which might stand for sterility and remembrance of people's deaths and it might imply that a conflict is to be expected. On the other hand, "_the public garden_" might symbolize fertility. "_The sea_" might stand for a wish to become a mother, to have a child. The rain restricts creativity since there is no artist with his easel. All in all, the atmosphere is sad, cold and unfriendly.
In the following paragraph, the American wife is standing at the window and it might be seen as a sign of solitude. Instead of describing the relation between the American wife and her husband, Hemingway describes the view from the hotel's room as if there was nothing to say about them or their mutual love. The woman's sympathy is evoked by seeing a cat crouched under the table to keep away from rain. The wife refers to the cat as "_kitty_" and she wants to get it. The husband, George, makes a poor attempt at offering to help. Unmoving and still laying in the same position on the bed, he remains focused on his book, and offers a light-hearted "_I'll do it_."� He does not show any interest in what his wife is doing and comes up with a poor answer: "_Don't get wet_."� The book that he is reading is a counterpoint. He goes into another dimension. This is a husband who is a man of letters. For him, real life is something material, something not important.
The hotel owner bowing to the American woman as she passes the office is a contrast to the husband. He stands up while the husband stays on the bed. The hotel owner is the introduction of a new male model, challenging the husband. The great attraction to this man is pointed by the repetitions of "_she liked_". However, we notice that the old man is probably old enough to be her father and supposedly evokes in her at a time of hardship the feelings of relief and protection that her father did. She sees him as perfect gentleman.
The woman goes downstairs in search for the cat. When the Italian girl asks her if she lost something, she replies: "_Yes, a cat under the table... Oh, I wanted it so much. I wanted a kitty_."� The wife's remark that she wants a kitty can be interpreted as a symbol of her desire to have a child. The woman wants to protect that little cat, which stands for innocence and vulnerability, like a baby. On the way back to her room, she sees the padrone again, who rises to bow to her, an action which makes her feel "_very small and tight inside... really important... of supreme importance_."� These words might be an indication that she is pregnant. The fact that the padrone gave the American wife the feeling of importance reflects the lack of attention or even affection she receives from George. For a moment George becomes thoughtful by saying: "_Wonder where it went to_."� He does not have any answer for this predicament and so resorts to his book again. He is passive all the time and he is escaping to the world of literature. She says that she does not know why she wants that cat so much: "_I don't know why I wanted it so...
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Hagopian, John V. Symmetry in "Cat in the Rain". College English. London. 1962
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� John V. Hagopian, Symmetry in "Cat in the Rain", London, 1962, p. 230.
� Cat in the Rain available at � HYPERLINK "http://www.geocities.com/cyber_explorer99/hemingwaycat.html" ��http://www.geocities.com/cyber_explorer99/hemingwaycat.html� last visited on May 19, 2008
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