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Amy Illing 12M

The Cat in the Rain


Hemingways The Cat in the Rain presents us the two central characters of the
American ex-pat wife and her husband, George at a hotel in Italy. The short story is
rife with symbolism and meaning, efficiently carried by detailed descriptions of the
characters and the surrounding environments, creating many different approaches to
the story. Stand out critical positions are Marxist and Feminist, demonstrated by
looking closely at Hemingways simplistic, but intricate style of literature.
Upon reflection, the Marxist idea can be very easily manifested through The Cat in

the Rain with the idea of hierarchy being challenged. The typical American white
wealth, with an unspoken position of superiority, expresses a desire for many things
in this story, for one, the American girls desire for the kitty. However the Marxist
idea is highlighted when the American girl cannot get the cat for herself and the only
way her materialistic desires for things, in this instance the cat, is fulfilled is when
her inferior the Italian maid fetches it for her, undermining the American white
supremacy instated by their wealth and race. This also raises other issues; the
American ex-pat couple holiday in another country and try to impose their way of life
onto different cultures. The American wife states the cat shouldnt be out in the rain,
which could be seen as more of a statement of higher intelligence, almost
condescending towards the lower class maid. The American vs Italian way of
living/holidaying is very much different and Hemingway can be shown to highlight
this. It could almost be seen as an Anti-American story as the picture painted of the
two different cultures shows clear flaws in the societal view of Americans. This
American way, desiring material objects and becoming bored, is contrasted with an
Italian way of vacationing. The Italians, altruistic and gallant, arrive in the same
location to see the war memorial and honour 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 honour the sacrifices of others, rather than to stay inside
and read, representing the American acquisitive, individual way of living.
The padrone and American husband, Georges interactions with the American girl
could also be seen to be indicative of the aforementioned points. The Italian padrone

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holds warm, emotional engagements with the girl and the wife therefore feels a
strange attachment to him, claiming she liked him. This juxtaposes completely to
Georges relationship with his wife, which illustrates an emotionally barren couple,
isolated by self-absorption. This is further demonstrated by Georges nonchalant,
disinterested attitude to his wifes decrepitude, and therefore her desire for material
goods comes from an inability to acquire intangible goods such as fun and affection
from George.
There are elements of a Feminist perspective which could be taken into
consideration when looking into Hemingways work. Hemingway seems to present
the female characters as inadequate to their male equivalents; the Italian maid is at
the padrones disposal and her duty is to carry out jobs under his instruction creating
the feeling of male dominance and control. Similarly, the American wife is made out
to be a very hopeless character. She is patronized and ignored by her husband who
tells her to shut up & find something to read. Her materialistic personality
generically labels women as needing to be appeased and not able to do anything for
themselves.
Hemingway can be seen as using spatial confinement as a way of demonstrating
the lack of female freedom and individuality under the confines of male dominance.
Physical and emotional barriers lead to the isolation of the American wife, for
example, the husband never leaves the bed in their hotel room, symbolising his lack
of contact and therefore desire for his wife, and in turn almost asserting his
dominance over the female. This physical distance between the two characters
creates emotional confinement between male and females as demonstrated by
Hemingway. The padrones desk similarly has this effect, making the interactions
between the characters feel remote and not easily accessible as a result of the
physical distance; the wife feels small. This could be seen as Hemingway
successfully belittling the female sex by giving them the feeling of claustrophobic
isolation, creating an unjust attitude towards male and female characters, maybe in
turn highlighting a sexist problems only raised when a feminist eye is cast upon the
text.

Amy Illing 12M