Sympathetic Qualities: A Look at the Hotel Keeper in Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain”
Sympathetic qualities endear characters to the reader in stories; they are the elements of a character’s personality that attract attention and hold emotion. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain,” these characteristics and resulting actions support the story’s purpose. The hotel keeper exhibits several sympathetic qualities including fatherly concern and attentiveness to his work. The hotel keeper shows fatherly concern for the wife by making her feel like a daughter (Hemingway 85). His appearance reminds her of a fatherly figure because “he was a very old man and very tall” (84). The wife likes “his old, heavy face and big hands” (84). His gravity emphasizes her immaturity; he “makes her feel very small” (85). Yet, “at the same time” the hotel keeper gave her a feeling of “supreme importance” (85). The padrone acknowledges her presence and “stood up and bowed to her as she passed the office” (84). On the other hand, George only shifts positions on the bed and returns to “reading his book” (85). While her husband barely tolerates her talking and tells his wife to “shut up and get something to read,” the hotel keeper considers her like a father would a daughter who is the apple of his eye. George does not understand why his wife is downcast, but the hotel keeper “wanted to serve her” and responds to meet her desires (84). When the wife goes to look for the cat, George tells her “don’t get wet,” but in the street “an umbrella opened behind her . . . the hotel keeper had sent it” (84). After the wife returns disappointed without the cat, she finds the maid at the door with a “big tortoise-shell cat . . . the padrone [sent] . . . for the Signora” (86). Not only is the padrone admirable for his attitude toward the wife, but also toward his job as hotel keeper.
Going above and beyond what would be expected, the hotel keeper is attentive to his work. Besides doing the normal...
Bibliography: Hemmingway, Ernest. “Cat in the Rain”. Readings for College English. Eds. Ronald A. Horton et al. Greenville: BJU P, 1990. 84-86. Print.
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