Hemingway beautifully designs “Cat in the Rain” to convey the idea of how difficult it is
for humans to make true connections. The story is a carefully constructed study on the
differences between male and female values and how these inconsistencies can lead to
isolation, separation and a breakdown in communication. Hemingway uses setting, lush
imagery and poignant symbolism to convey this meaning
The sense of isolation is created in the first line where “There were only two
Americans stopping at the hotel”. The fact that George and his wife are in the usually
romantic Italy during the rainy off-season points to the lack of passion in their marriage.
Hemingway uses imagery to describe the stagnancy: “Water stood in pools on the
gravel paths. The sea broke in a long line in the rain and slipped back down the beach to
come up and break again in a long line in the rain.” He uses geometric shapes to
illustrate the wife’s feelings of confinement in the relationship: “The motor cars were
gone from the square by the war monument. Across the square in the doorway of the
café a waiter stood looking out at the empty square.”
The contrast between the male and female psyche is symbolized through the
juxtaposition of the war monument, standing for staunch, unchanging patriarchal values
with the artists’ garden, representing life and the pursuit of growth. The wife sees this
scene through the barrier of the window in the isolated room where George is forever
reading the book that is far more important to him than the musings of his wife.
It is through this window that the wife spots a cat in the rain “trying to to keep dry
under a table.” and begins to sense her own struggle with the unfairness of living in a
man’s world. She resolves to rescue this cat, the symbol of her predicament and try to
resolve her own feelings of helplessness.
As she descends to the lobby of the...