A Study On Cat In Rain English Literature Essay

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This is clearly the story of two people who do not understand each other, and who have such emotional distance from each other it is difficult to think they will ever become a real couple. Nearly every passage in the text points to their emotional estrangement, and the husband's distance and disinterest in his wife. The husband is so engrossed in his book that he will allow his wife to go out in the rain to look for a cat. "'Don't get wet,' he said" (Hemingway 129). It is clear the woman will not get any help from her husband, physically or emotionally, and that the thought of helping her is quite far from his mind, he is only paying lip service to her, his book is far more important. As the story progresses, the woman is most often alone in the action, another item that points to the couple's lack of emotion and warmth for each other. She ventures out into the rain without an umbrella, the hotel- keeper sends a maid to help her, and she knows immediately it was him, and not her husband that acted kindly toward her. "Of course, the hotel-keeper had sent her" (Hemingway 130). She does not expect such kind treatment from her husband, and of course, does not receive it either. Not only is this a sad statement to their relationship, it is a sad statement to their compatibility and emotional well being. It is clear the woman wants more from her husband, and equally clear that he cannot give her what she wants. "'Oh, shut up and get something to read,' George said. He was reading again" (Hemingway 131). Her husband is selfish and self-indulgent, and when she pushes him too far, he pushes her away and retreats to his reading and his total disinterest. It is sad, and it is emotionally draining. This woman seems to have a maternal instinct that she needs to fill. She is also impatient, and if she cannot have a child, she wants something to take its place right away. "'Anyway, I want a cat,' she said, 'I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can't have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat'" (Hemingway 131). The husband ignores her, but the hotel-keeper has sensed her need, and sent the maid up with a cat. The woman gets what she wants, but not from her husband, another man has sensed her needs more than he has. She has something to quell her maternal instincts, but she still does not have a good relationship with her husband, and it does not look like she ever will. This story is very well known, and critics have discussed it for years. Many critics also believe the story tells the tale of a couple incredibly distanced from each other. For example, the husband says he will go and get the cat, but never does, showing his lack of desire to help his wife. One critic says, "But it is clear immediately and from what follows that the husband has no actual desire to serve. It is an offer rather than a statement of intent. By giving her a choice, he signals his opposite desire, saying in effect that he will do it only if she asks him to" (Lindsay). She does not ask him to because she knows him too well, and knows he will only disappoint her and her desires. She is also selfish, and narcissistically interested in her own desires above everything else, which may be one reason her husband is so distant, as the same critic caustically note, "These Americans can't risk getting out of bed or going into the rain because they will endanger what they most value and want to protect, their own desires. And if they are unwilling to pay the price, then they, paradoxically and ironically, can receive no value" (Lindsay). The woman does not want the poor cat in the rain; she wants anything she can take care of, so her desires are more important than the needs of the animal. She and her husband are equally self-centered, and each shows it in their own way, he by ignoring her, and she by petulantly demanding his attention. Many critics also believe the woman is either pregnant, or has an unspoken wish for a child. This is why she is so adamant about the cat, and why she no longer wants to look like a "boy." "'I get so tired of it,' she said. 'I get so tired of looking like a boy'" (Hemingway 131). Unconsciously, her husband seems to treat her like a child, or a young boy, and as such, she has no physical sense of herself or her sexuality. Pregnancy and longer hair would add to her femininity, and it seems she hopes they would also add to her charm for her husband, and make him desire her more, although he seems to prefer her as a boy. "'You look pretty darn nice,' he said" (Hemingway 131). This is the only compliment he pays her, and it is reference to her looking like a "boy." Perhaps this helps him disassociate himself with her, her desires, her wants, and her pressures on him. Whatever the reason, this couple lives quite apart from each other, and it is extremely doubtful that a cat or a child will bring them together. Another critic notes, "When she returns, empty handed, and sits on the bed with George, she understands the uselessness of it all [...] The American husband is dry, desiccated, unable or unwilling to act" (Griffin 99). This is a couple so far removed from each other, that their relationship seems doomed, and if there is a child, it will grow up to be as disenchanted and narcissistic as the parents. In conclusion, the meaning of this story is quite clear. These two selfish and emotionally distant people cannot give affection to each other. Their lives are useless, and the woman longs for motherhood as something to fill up the void in her life. They are incapable of any action toward each other, and their lives are as meaningless as this rainy day in Italy. The wife gets what she wants right now, in the form of a cat, but she will never get what she wants from her distant and ineffectual husband.