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a-cat-in-the-rain

VIEWS: 188 PAGES: 2

									                                            A.

                           E. Hemingway “Cat in the Rain”
                                 Text Interpretation

       We tend to think of marital life as of a wonderful time, when two soul mates
live happily, worshiping each other. However, having a family and seeming happy,
one can be misunderstood and feel lonely. And this is the theme of Ernest
Hemingway’s story “Cat in the rain”.
       The story is about a young American couple, who spend their time in Italy.
The reader knows nothing about the couple’s past, and even the American wife’s
name is unknown, which is a part of the author’s intention: Hemingway
generalizes on the problem of marital life, and builds up a typical image of a wife,
unhappy in her marriage.
       The story begins with the description of a hotel where the American wife
and her husband stay. This descriptive paragraph occupies a strong position of the
beginning. Everything seems to be ideal with the characters: a cozy room on the
second floor, a lovely view from the window, but the author’s description of rain
evokes a mood of sadness. To bring this air of melancholy home to his reader,
Hemingway introduces parallel constructions: "The rain dripped from the palm
trees. … in a long line in the rain". The nouns rain, pools, and sea belong to one
semantic field – that of water, which comes to be associated with inevitability.
Indeed, one cannot hide from the rain. Water is everywhere: it is on the ground, it
is pouring from the heavens as though the nature were weeping for something.
Alliteration, namely the repetition of the sounds -r-and -l-(Rain dripped from the
palm trees, the sea broke in a long line in the rain), brings the necessary measured
rhythm into the utterance, imitates the sound of rain.
       In such a dull evening the American wife sees a cat in the rain, and feels a
strong inexplicable desire to get it. Hemingway writes: “The cat sat under the
table and tried to make herself so compact that she wouldn't be dripped on”. The
reader easily imagines a small, wet homeless creature, crouching under the table in
the empty square. In the course of the story it turns into a symbol of loneliness for
him, a parallel character to American wife: both characters are inconvenient and
lonely.
       The girl’s decision to go down and get the cat “makes the reader acquainted”
with her husband. He is lying on the bed, reading. First he proposes to go out for
the cat his wife wants so much, but soon the reader understands: he does it out of
politeness, not out of love and understanding. His answers are short and indifferent
(“I’ll do it”, “Don’t get wet”), whereas the wife is explicit in her emotions.
       When the girl goes downstairs she is greeted by the hotel-keeper, who
“stood up and bowed to her as she passed the office”. Her husband’s attitude
radically differs from the hotel-keeper’s attitude towards her: the verb bowed in the
latter’s speech implies respect. As the old man seems to be more caring than the
husband, she takes a liking to him. To expose this feeling of the young lady the
author resorts to anaphoric repetition: "She liked the deadly serious way… She
liked his old, heavy face and big hands ". The implicit details old heavy face and
big hands point to those care and support the American wife cannot find in her
husband. As the author says: "The pardon made her feel very small and at the
same time really important. She had a momentary feeling of being of supreme
importance". Hemingway juxtaposes two epithets: small and important, and this
paradoxical combination emphasizes the woman’s needs and feelings. She needs to
be heard, to be understood, and to be important.
       It seems that the situation improves somehow because in the course of
narration the husband “gets” a name – George, - and it is him, who starts the
conversation, when his wife returns to their room. He even stops reading for a
while: “Did you get the cat,” – he asked, putting the book down”. The verbal
elements – both the interrogative sentence and the phrase forming the gesture
detail - show that the husband wonders, he seems to be interested. But he doesn’t
manage to keep this interest for too long: “George was reading again”.
       Then comes the climax of the story. “I get so tired of it,” she said. “I get so
tired of looking like a boy.” The American wife is tired of her routine, she doesn’t
say directly that she is not satisfied with her family life, but the reader can see it in
the context. And this internal conflict – the conflict between the wife’s wishes and
her inability to realize them – is the main conflict of the story. She says: "I want to
pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I feel. I
want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her". She wants to
have long hair to look solid and respectable. She wants to have children and her
own house, which are associated in her mind with silver and candles. And the cat
in her dreams is a symbol of refuge. “I want it to be spring,” the girl says. She
desperately needs changes, something new in her life. She needs someone to care
about. To disclose the girl's emotional state and to accentuate the idea of
dissatisfaction the author bases upon parallelism reinforced by the repetition of the
verb want (I want). Even this pronoun I makes the reader believe the American
wife is lonely: he\she cannot see the pronoun we instead, for instance.
       The American wife feels insulted with her husband’s behaviour and stays
looking out of the window. It is still raining. The rain, - a silent witness of this high
drama, - forms the leitmotif of the story. The image of rain has a symbolic
meaning. It symbolizes an unfortunate family life. To the end of the story the
author gratifies the girl's wish and “gives” her the cat, but it is not that cat from the
street. And though the writer leaves it to the reader to guess a further development
of the events, it seems predictable that the girl won't be satisfied, that she will
never be happy with her husband. This big tortoise-shell cat does not seem to
symbolize home, coziness and, as a result, happiness, it symbolizes a missed
opportunity.

								
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