Ernest Hemingway�s �Cat in the Rain� by tQ7Cr31i

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									                         Ernest Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain”
   1925:
       o first printed in In Our Time
       o written while Hemingway was living in France
       o His short stories, however, particularly those in In
          Our Time, are consistently considered some of his
          finest efforts.
       o not autobiographical
               Hemingway claims (in a letter to F. Scott
                  Fitzgerald) that the story was not about his
                  marriage to his first wife, which was falling
                  apart at the same time the story was written
   American couple vacationing in an Italian hotel
       o husband = George
       o wife has no name

Summary
        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.

Commentary
         The American wife expresses a desire for many things in this story. She tells her husband that if she
cannot have any fun, then she might as well have things that she wants. In other words, this desire for material
goods comes from an inability to acquire intangible goods such as fun and affection. This lack of intimacy is not
entirely her husband's fault, of course. She also ignores his compliments.
         This American way, desiring material objects and becoming bored, is contrasted with an Italian way
of vacationing. The Italians arrive in the same location to see the war memorial and honor the war dead. They
are more involved in the ideas of the place than in owning things from it. In addition, it is a more communal
way of living, to honor the sacrifices of others, rather than to stay inside and read.
< http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/inourtime/section20.rhtml >
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CAT:
 CAT = symbol
     o for Hemingway?
     o for the wife?
            projection
     o “a cat was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The
       cat was trying to make herself so compact that she would not be
       dripped on.”
     o cat stuck in the rain
     o with nobody to care for
       o vulnerable
       o greatest fear, curled up for protection
       o symbolizes the wife who longs to be loved

TORTOISESHELL CAT
 The term tortoiseshell cat refers to a coloration pattern caused by a specific genetic trait. It is not a specific
  breed of cat.




   The coats of tortoiseshell cats are a mixture of colors. Tortoiseshell coats combine black, white, red or
    ginger, and occasionally silver or ginger tabby patterns. The size of the patches can vary from a fine
    speckled pattern to large areas of color. Cats with a basic white color and red and black patches are known
    as tortoiseshell-and-white or more commonly, calico cats.
   The tortoiseshell coloration is a sex-linked trait. Sex-linked genes are those carried on the mammalian X
    chromosome, but not the Y chromosome. In cats, the gene controlling the red color is carried on an X
    chromosome. The gene controlling black and other 'non-red' colors is also carried on an X chromosome. So,
    a tortoiseshell is formed when you combine two X chromosomes, one containing the red colors and the
    other containing the non-red colors.
   Because two X chromosomes are necessary for this particular pattern of coloration, over 99 percent of
    tortoiseshell cats are females. In order for a male to be a tortoiseshell, he would need to have two X
    chromosomes. This condition is called Klinefelter's syndrome, and these males are almost always sterile.
   < http://starkvilleveterinaryhospital.com/newsletter.php >

   Tortoise shell cats in myths
       o However, the Khmers of Southeast Asia offer one interesting explanation. According to their
           folklore, the first tortoiseshell arose from the menstrual blood of a young goddess born of a lotus
           flower during a magical ritual.
       o Other folklore concerning the tortoiseshell include the following: 1) The Celts considered it a good
           omen if a male tortoiseshell stayed in their home 2) The English believed that warts could be healed
           if rubbed by the tail of a male tortoiseshell's tail during May 3) Japanese fishermen believed that
           male tortoiseshells protected the vessel from ghosts and storms 4) Some believe that having a
           tortoiseshell in one's dream gives that person luck in love. <>
       o A stray tortoise shell cat foretells bad omen < http://www.xmission.com/~emailbox/folklore.htm>
       o Tortoiseshell cats were believed to be able to see into the future and could give the gift to a lucky
           child in the household. (same site)
       o In Normandy, seeing a tortoiseshell cat foretold death by accident. (same site)
       o If you dream of a tortoiseshell cat, you will be lucky in love.
   Further symbolism:
         o Cat = female (probably)  = wife
         o Cat = male  sterility  = husband
                   That’s why she doesn’t have kids
         o multi-colored
                   no distinct pattern, no boundaries, randomness
                            = Americans, America, Lost Generation
                                    o drifting, nomadic, no home
                   = America the “melting pot”
 Sterility/ infertility
         o void in marriage
                   filled with pets, toys, material objects
         o unnatural
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WIFE
         o no name
         o “American girl”
         o lonely, empty
         o wants & wants & wants
         o materialistic
               child = pet
               pet = child
               something to take care of
               something to amuse her as she amuses her husband
               something to fill her void, emptiness, loneliness
         o materialistic OR lonely??
         o whiny OR starved for attention??

HUSBAND
    o George
    o uncaring, aloof
    o let’s wife go out in the rain, unprotected
    o cares more about his book than his wife
    o thinks she humorous, her funny little ways
           he’s amused by her
           as if she’s a child, pet
    o he’s so used to her always wanting & wanting & wanting
           that he knows this is just another one of her little games or crusades
           save the poor, children, homeless, … cats in the rain
    o “shut & find something to read”:
           patronizing, humored by her little ways?
           humorously, amusedly?
           cold, indifferent?
           (NOT “shut up & kiss me” OR “shut up & come make love to me”)
    o Will he let her keep the tortoise shell cat?

PADRONE
    o male
    o better than the husband
           doesn’t let the woman go out in the rain
           gives her a cat
               the “simple things”
         o doesn’t actually do anything
               has the maid (girl) do it
                       umbrella
                       tortoise shell cat
               sexist?
               no better than the husband?
               good businessman
                       takes care of a customer’s needs
                       sends maid out in the rain with umbrella
                       sends maid out in the rain to get a cat
               Italian vs. American?
                       thoughtful, caring
                       lazy, unaffectionate

                       PADRONE                                                              HUSBAND
   dignity, will, commitment                                           no dignity, will, commitment
   attention to wife                                                   indifference to the wife
   thoughtful                                                          thoughtless
   serves/satisfies her needs (quite easily)                           ignores, patronizes her needs
   turns her on sexually                                               indifferent to her sexually, to her come-on

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DESIRE:
(desire & longing)
 for cat
 for children
 for material possessions
 for sex
 for attention
 for affection
 for companionship
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SYMBOLISM:

        War Monument:
            o honor, respect, self-sacrifice
            o death
        Garden:
            o nature, life-giving
            o Garden of Eden?
        War Monument in the Garden:
            o death & life mixed
                   sterility/infertility
                   miscarriage??
                   abortion??
            o so far removed from the Garden of Eden
        Rain:
            o life-giving, fertility
            o bad weather (contrasts to good weather…on a vacation)
        Rain Coat:
            o prophylactic  sterility/infertility
            o padrone’s thoughtfulness vs. husband’s indifference
        Cats:
         o for Hemingway
         o for Americans (materialistic, easily pacified, ennui)
         o for the wife (longing to be loved)
         o sterility/infertility
         o cats vs. dogs:
                cats = individualistic, loners, anti-social
                dogs = gregarious, communal, social
        Husband & Wife:
         o America, American Way
         o human nature
                impulse to be selfish, petty, self-serving, indifferent, materialistic
                PARABLE??????
        Padrone:
         o Italy, Italian/European Way

INFERTILITY SYMBOLS:
    garden w/war monument
    rain coat
    type of cat
    husband’s coldness/indifference to her come-on, lack of interest in sex, lack of passion

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ANTI-AMERICAN STORY?:
     o American = negative
     o wife = materialistic; wants & wants & wants, never satisfied
     o husband = aloof, distant, uncaring, unaffectionate, lazy
     o people = possessions
            child = pet
            wife = pet
     o the only Americans in the hotel
     o materialistic
     o childish
     o impotent, infertile?
     o American men = lazy, unaffectionate, impotent
     o American women = materialistic, wanting, lonely, barren, discontented, easily satisfied

       AMERICAN way of living/vacationing                                    ITALIAN way of living/vacationing
   materialistic                                                       not materialistic
        o (acquisitive, greedy, selfish)                                    o (altruistic, giving, serving)
        o desiring material objects                                         o no ties to objects, give as gifts
        o & then becoming bored (ennui)                                     o objects = tied to others
        o more, more, more                                                  o less, to serve others
   self-centered                                                       others-centered
        o selfish, self-interested/absorbed                                 o gallant, self-sacrificing
   purpose                                                             purpose
        o to vacation, not to honor the sacrifices of                        o to see the war memorial and honor the war
            others                                                               dead
   interested in owning things from the place                          interested in the ideas of the place
   a more individual (selfish) way of living                           a more communal way of living
        o to stay inside and read                                            o to honor the sacrifices of others

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                                               OTHER STORIES
    “Say Yes”
         o arguments @ something other than what they’re @ on the surface, than what they seem
         o husband doesn’t “get it”
 “Parable of Prodigal Son”
         o parable of human failings
         o lost, in a far off land
         o close together but miles apart
         o emotional/psychic disconnect
 husbands & wives: (relationships)
         o “Say Yes”
         o “Powder”
         o “Story of Hour”
         o “Clod & Pebble”
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                                        LITERARY THEORIES
ALLEGORY, PARABLE:
 everything, everyone = symbol for something larger
 short, concise
 message, thematic

BIOGRAPHICAL:
 his marriage to his first wife, which was falling apart at the same time the story was written
 bitterness toward his mother, whom he viewed as selfish and domineering
 alienation, disenfranchisement
 His short stories, however, particularly those in In Our Time, are consistently considered some of his finest
   efforts. The majority of these stories focus on Nick Adams, a protagonist often discussed as the
   quintessential Hemingway hero and the first in the line of the author's "fictional selves."

FEMINISM:
 treatment of women
      o wife
              patronized, condescended to
              ignored, indifferent to
              infertility
              desperate for attention
              easily amused, appeased
              materialistic
      o maid
                     servant
                     out in rain w/wife
                     out in rain for cat
   infertility
        o unnatural
        o void, empty
        o unfulfilled

HISTORICISM:
 Lost Generation
 World War I

PSYCHO-ANALYTICAL:
 projection
      o wife projects her feelings onto the cat
                wife = lonely, feels unloved
                wants & wants & wants
                wants to be taken care of
                wants to take care of someone/thing
                         wants a child
                         child = pet
      o the cat is fine – goes off on its own
                can take care of itself – needs no protection
      o
 ennui
 transference
 sterility/infertility

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                                                    QUESTIONS
         o What is the state of their marriage as the story opens?
         o Is the tortoise shell cat the same one that was in the rain?
                 Does it matter?
         o Will that satisfy the wife?
                 Will she still want more?
                 Does she just want & want & want? (likes to complain?)
         o Will George let her keep the cat?
         o Will she want to keep the cat?
         o Was it ever really about the cat?
                 see “Say Yes”
         o Does the POV shift from the wife’s to the husband’s at the end
                 not the cat, but a cat (he never saw it)
         o Epilogue:
                 Does she keep it, Does he let her
                 Do they stay together, Does she cheat on him first chance
                 Do they have children, Can they have children
                 Do they wander aimlessly, lost, Do they settle down

								
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