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The Self Mirrored in the Other
An Oral Presentation Based on Three Short Stories (3 of 10)

Section 2. Part I.
Presentation of the Analysis and Cat in the Rain

After reading several stories, I chose three of them to talk to you about today. The reason why I made this decision is that I realized that these three stories share a common topic, which is the following: people who reflect or project their feelings, thoughts or reactions on othersand when I say others I mean not only people, but also animals, objects and so on...

As most of you haven't read the stories I am going to talk about today, I have prepared a summary and a mixture of some interesting information about them and their authors plus some thoughts of mine.

Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway (read the story here)


The first story is Cat in the Rain, written by Ernest Hemingway in the 1920's. It is about an American woman who was staying at a hotel where she was spending her holidays with her husband, George, in Italy. She saw a cat in the rain and wanted to protect the animal. When she said that she was going out to bring the poor cat in, her husband paid little attention to her, whereas the hotel owner asked a maid to hold an umbrella over her. Unfortunately, before the two women could catch the cat, it had gone. After returning to the hotel room, she told her husband that she wanted to have a cat and other things, like new clothes or long hair. George didn't seem to be interested in his wife's wishes at all. At the end of the story, the hotel owner sent the maid to the couple's room with a cat in her arms. It was for the American woman.

Ernest Hemingway was born on 21 st July 1899 in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. He worked as a reporter, took part in both world wars, and spent a lot of time in Europe.

To many people, he was a genius because of his excellent way of using simple words, whereas—because of the fact that most of his characters are men—to others, he was a writer obsessed with masculinity. Cat in the Rain seems to be an exception, because its main character is a woman (the American wife).

Often the plots of his stories are based on certain periods of his own life. Cat in the rain was written in Paris, where Hemingway and his wife, Hadley Richardson, had moved to immediately after their marriage. The American wife who appears in Cat in the Rain seems to be a rather silly and childish woman—for example, she keeps referring to the cat as a "kitty", and insists in her desire of having a cat like this: "Anyway, I want a cat. I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can't have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat" (lines 72-73)—which may be the reflection of Hemingway's opinion about Hadley. In fact, they divorced in a few years after their marriage.

The weather and places descriptions that appear in his stories are a very important part in his works, and introduce the reader into the atmosphere in which the facts are going to take place. The introduction of Cat in the Rain represents an example of this thought. At first, he describes the place in good weather (big palms, bright colours, painters...)—like "the spring" of the American couple's relationship. Then, he describes the same place in the moment of the story. It is raining, which makes the place cold and sad, similar to their relation at that moment.

Another thing is that, in the same introduction, Hemingway refers to a war monument. It is not a strange thing, because of his work as a reporter during the war. Could the war monument symbolize or announce a disappointment between the American couple? I think so. The reason why I think like this is that wars come from disappointments. Of course, these disappointments are different from the couple's, but it is a metaphor.

Referring to the wife's wish of looking after the cat, I find three possibilities. One of them is that she is an immature woman that needs to look after the cat to take on a responsibility, she needs it for being more adult. Another idea is that she wants to have a baby so, until this happens, she wants to care of the cat. The third possibility is the one I support most, and is based on the thought that she identifies with the "poor kitty out in the rain" and wants to care for it. Even when she doesn't know exactly why, she wants to rescue the cat from the rain and give it her protection (thought probably it doesn't need such a thing).

The reason why she feels vulnerable as a kitten in the rain, or lonely, is because she doesn't get much affection from her husband George. The lack of this affection is compensated with the attention that she receives from the hotel-keeper, who finally makes her wish come true. The fact that it is the hotel owner who gets the cat for her (it could be another cat, but it doesn't matter) may be a metaphorical hint for a solution to her own problems.

In the story we can actually see that the wife wants to see changes in her life and tries to improve the marital relation, whereas her husband doesn't try to solve their problems. Maybe he hasn't realized that there is something wrong with their marriage: "Oh, shut up and get something to read".

To sum up, Cat in the Rain seems to be an example of Hemingway's thoughts. He believed that people are not able to make good relationships, so they become lonely and get depressed. Probably he felt that this was happening to him when he decided to commit suicide in 1961.

Go to Next Page (Part II, Section 2)
Go to Section 3. Group Dynamics for the Oral Presentation
Go to Section 4. Learning English with these stories
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