Cat in The Rain
The Cat In The Rain As A Reflection Of Darkness In Hemmingway’s Life
Ernest Hemingways Cat in the Rain
Hemingways Cat in the Rain is a short story depicting a couples stay in Italy. The woman in the story sees a cat stranded outside in the rain and wants to bring him to her hotel room. When she goes to retrieve the cat, it is gone. However a short while later the cat is delivered to her room by the hotelkeeper. Hemingway helps the reader to appreciate Cat in the Rain through his use of setting, writing style, and character.
Ernest Hemingway uses the setting in the short story Cat in the Rain to set a unique feeling. In the story it was raining. The rain dripped from the palm leaves. (Hemingway 408). The hotel is where the whole story takes place. The hotel was not very active on the rainy day. There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel. They did not know any of the people they passed on the stairs on their way to and from their room. (Hemingway 408). The Italian atmosphere with the American guests in it gives definite volume to the setting.
Ernest Hemingway also uses his writing style in Cat in the Rain to aid the reader in understanding and interpreting the short story. The point of view Hemingway tells Cat in the Rain from is very sexist. Hemingway displays his sexist attitude in the short story when the man, George, compliments the woman saying, You look pretty darn nice, (Hemingway 409), then in his next breath degrades her by telling her to shut up and get something to read. (Hemingway 409). Hemingways opposition to women is one of his notorious traits. Hemingway is also known to use little description in his works but rely confidently in the dialogue. In Cat in the Rain Hemingway balances both description and dialogue quite well. When describing the woman finding the cat, Hemingway writes:
The American wife stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so compact that she would not be dripped on. Im going down to get that kitty, the American wife said. Ill do it, her husband offered from the bed. No, Ill get it. The poor kitty is out trying to keep dry under a table.
Hemingway uses his description to give the reader a visual image and he also uses dialogue to add to the image. Hemingway also uses tone in his writing style. The attitudes of the characters help set the tone. The short replies from George in the dialogue give the reader the feeling that George isnt very respectful of his wifes thoughts and feelings. George replys to his wifes comments with rude remarks such as Oh, shut up, (Hemingway 409). This projects to the reader a lack of closeness between the two.
Hemingway uses the characters in his short story Cat in the Rain to help the reader appreciate his works. The wife in the story is extremely air-headed. The woman in this story plays the role perfectly. The man on the other hand also fills the part of Hemingways usual make leads. Their relationship with one another is also typical of Hemingways writings. The man lacks respect for the woman. The woman however is not phased in the slightest by the treatment she receives. When Georges wife was talking to him, George was not listening. He was reading his book. (Hemingway 409). The portrayal of this American couple is exactly like every other couple Hemingway creates providing an excellent tone for the short story.
Cat in the Rain, by Ernest Hemingway, is a short story about an American couple in an Italian hotel. This short story, along with many of Hemingways novels and stories, follows a distinct pattern. Hemingway uses the setting, his writing style, and the characters to enhance the readers perception of the story. Hemingway utilizes all of these attributes to help the reader fully understand the story. Hemingways life is reflected in all of his works. Cat in the Rain shows the hardships Hemingway faced in his love life. Hemingway suffered many illnesses, suffered from depression, and had many accidents in his lifetime. The Cat in this story reflects a darkness in Hemmingways life. The cat is an enigma much like Hemmingway himself.
Role of Man and Woman in Hemingway’s Cat in the Rain
The Importance of Gender Roles in Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain”
Ernest Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain” depends heavily on subtle hints through imagery and character dialogue to communicate his intentions. As such, determining his purpose in writing the story is difficult to discern. There are countless theories concerning what the kitten, wife, husband, hotel owner, and maid represent within the story’s structure. On the surface, the story quite obviously centers upon a failing, unhappy relationship. The hypothesis that Hemingway was attempting to paint a picture of early twentieth century relationships and women’s struggle for identity in society is not untenable. However, upon further inspection I have concluded that Hemingway had greater aspirations when writing this short story. I believe he sought to tackle a social issue that was an interest of his from an early age. This issue is the stricture of gender roles imposed by society. Hemingway’s sharing of the book Psychology of Sex and discussion of “male and female roles,” with his wife serves as historical evidence of his interest in the subject of gender roles (Bennett). I hypothesize that the characters in Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain” serve as individual examples of the damage done by forced gender roles.
The first character of interest within the story is the nameless wife. Throughout the story, it is quite clear she is not happy with her relationship. When she states “I don’t know why I wanted it so much. I wanted that poor kitty. It isn’t any fun to be a poor kitty out in the rain,” it is clear she is longing for something she doesn’t quite understand and finds the kitten relatable to her life (Hemingway 2). She goes on to state more desires like her own, “table,” “silver,” “some new clothes,” and “to grow her hair out” (2). These seemingly simple desires reveal a lot about what the wife is meant to represent in the story. Like the kitten in the rain ineffectively seeking shelter, “under one of the dripping green tables,” the wife is seeking out a life of happiness with her own belongings and shelter from the reign of her oppressive husband. What the kitten represents is a life characterized by feminine, delicate qualities. What the wife does not realize is that the life she seeks, represented by the kitten, is actually a gender stereotype created by society. One that is fraught with ignorant innocence and frailty. Hemingway uses the wife to prove that striving for a life that is prescribed by society’s gender roles will not lead to happiness. The kitten is in the pouring rain just like the wife is, so neither is in better place.
The wife may be out in the rain, but she is the not the only one who suffers in the story. When she looks out the door of the hotel she notices, “A man in a rubber cape was crossing the empty square to the café” (1). This lonely traveler could have easily been left out of the story, but he wasn’t because he bears significance. He is out in the rain with the wife and kitten, struggling to find a life of happiness in a world that is attempting to cover him in a variety of labels. He helps introduce the idea that both men and women suffer from the strictures of gender roles. The husband, George, and the padrone help expand this concept of universal suffering.
George is quite obviously oppressive and downright rude to his wife. He makes his wife keep her hair, “clipped close like a boys” and flatly tells his wife to, “shut up” when she voices her desires (2). His apathy and despotic traits unapologetically ooze through his character. This is contrasted by the padrone’s “dignity” and desire “to serve” the wife (1). The dichotomous relationship between the padrone and the husband serves to intensify the wife’s covert sexual feelings for the padrone. He elicits a “…very small and tight…” feeling inside the wife that is comparable to sexual tension (2). The husband only drives the wife farther away with his aloofness. Despite, the importance of the padrone to the wife, he has minimal dialogue in the story. The wife also notes, “The padrone made her feel very small and at the same time really important” (2). This enigmatic statement is in itself contradictory. The padrone’s presence is omniscient throughout the story despite his brief appearance. The visceral energy he generates in the wife serves to keep the image of him clear in the reader’s mind. He is phantasmal in a way, rarely ever seen, but always present. With these details in mind, I believe Hemmingway used the padrone to illustrate the gender stereotypes associated with masculinity. He is noted as “tall,” and having “big hands,” making him physically virile (2). His demeanor is noted as “deadly serious,” and he is said to have “dignity” (2). This in combination with his ghostly presence produces an image that is merely an ideal. He contains the qualities of something imagined. He contains no spectrum of human emotion, but is reduced to a few masculine traits. This leads me to believe the padrone is a representation of the gender stereotypes associated with masculinity. He is an amalgam of wholly positive traits that creates a character of unreasonable standards for the average male. His existence is not physical, but still plagues men like George making them bitter with the defeat if not achieving society’s perception of man.
The characters in the Cat in the Rain could represent a variety of ideals depending on how the story is read. This leaves a lot of the interpretation up to the reader. This leads many people to paint Hemingway as a feminist in defense of women of the early twentieth century, like the American wife in the story. Others believe he is chauvinist for the inclusion of the oppressive husband, George, in the story. What I have discerned from Hemingway’s interests and textual examples is that he is neither a feminist nor chauvinist, but a humanist. If the characters are interpreted to represent the harmful effects of gender role stereotypes, a plethora of supporting textual examples are revealed. The wife is a downtrodden woman of the twentieth century, under the tyrannical reign of her gender role-imposing husband. She hopelessly strives to connect with the kitten in the rain, but fails to see that the fragile, gender stereotypical life the kitten represents. It is getting drenched in a flurry of society’s oppressive labels as well. The husband George is a product of the existence of the ideals represented by the padrone. The padrone’s inhuman nature is antagonistic to George’s being and fuels the venomous relationship he has with his wife. This interpretation makes it clear that Hemingway was a humanist demonstrating the harm of imposed gender roles in society.æ
Analyzing Cat in the Rain from a Psychological Perspective
Modern psychology, although a relatively new and largely still-debated scientific field, focuses on not how people do certain things, but why. Most people would agree that modern psychology began with Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s. Freud’s most important work involves his belief in the subconscious mind—a place that, although we are not aware of the impact, secretly plays a role in the things we say, do, and even dream. Since then, psychology has continued to grow and develop thanks to B.F. Skinner, Pavlov, Maslow, and other contributors that have continued to evolve Freud’s initial thoughts and develop major strides towards figuring out why humans act and react in certain ways. Freud asserted that literature itself was a type of “day-dream” and that the author could be psychoanalyzed based upon their writings (Lynn 200). According to Lynn, the critic must “go beyond biological facts to expose the underlying motivation” (200). Furthermore, a critic could also psychoanalyze a character within the text to try to bring to the surface what the character’s true motives are, which can also give some insight into the author. In order to effectively perform a psychological criticism in terms of a character within a text, the critic must be both creative and have a general knowledge of psychological terms in order to “diagnose” the character, which will ultimately bring the motives of the character into the foreground. For the purposes of psychological criticism, the short fiction of modernist Ernest Hemingway—particularly his relationship-oriented narrative “Cat in the Rain”—is especially instructive.
Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Cat in the Rain” tells the tale of a young American couple traveling in Italy after the war. The married couple is the only Americans at a small hotel near the ocean. It is raining, so they are stuck together in their small hotel room, and the wife is looking out the window when she notices a cat hunkered under a table trying to keep dry. The wife tells her husband, “It’s no fun to be a kitty out in the rain” (Hemingway 93). The wife goes out to rescue the cat, but when she goes around the building, the cat is gone. The wife returns to the hotel room, where her husband George is still reading. He continues to ignore her as she tells him about all the things she wants: a cat, long hair, silver, a table, and new clothes (Hemingway 94). George tells her to shut up. At the end of the story, the maid at the hotel brings a cat to the room, although it is unclear whether or not it is the same cat from outside. The American woman manages to give many aspects of her psyche to analyze, despite the story being only three pages long. There is evidence of both isolation and displacement, both of which are coping mechanisms that the woman uses to deal with the fact that she is being ignored by her husband and longs for a stable, more domestic life. Ultimately, the cat in the rain become a symbol for what the woman really wants—a domestic life—and the woman’s isolation and displacement.
Throughout the course of the story, the American woman is ignored repeatedly by her husband George. The first instance occurs when the woman first says she wants to go out and help the kitty. Her husband does offer to go get it for her, but he never looks up from his book or makes any sort of motion to get up (Hemingway 91). The woman says she wants to go and ventures into the rain to retrieve the cat. Upon seeing the cat is no longer their, the woman returns to her hotel room, where her husband is still reading in bed. He does ask if she found it, but returns to reading before she answers him. When she muses about letting her hair grow out, he simply says that he likes it the way it is (Hemingway 95). The wife then goes on and on about all of the things that she wants: “And I want to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring and I want to brush my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new clothes” (Hemingway 96). George’s response is simply, “Oh, shut up and get something to read” (Hemingway 96). The wife resumes insisting that she wants a cat, but Hemingway makes it apparent that the husband is not listening to her musings. It is apparent in this story that the marriage is clearly lacking something and that the wife is not dealing with it in a mentally sound and healthy way. Despite being repeatedly ignored and even once insulted, the wife never seems to directly to react to her husband’s mistreatment. Psychologically, this is known as isolation, which is “understanding that something should be upsetting but failing to react to it” (Lynn 205). The fact that the wife fails to react to the rudeness of her husband implies that she is perhaps immune to this behavior, which means it is a common occurrence. In “We Are All Cats in the Rain”, White describes the husband’s behavior as “[refusing to indulge] her the child in her” (White 253). The wife should call out her husband’s behavior or at the very least, show some physical sign off annoyance. Instead, though, she never even reacts at all. However, her lack of reaction is enough evidence to show that she is using isolation as a coping mechanism. She is clearly unhappy in her marriage and seems to be accustomed to his behavior.
Another coping mechanism we see the American wife employ several times is displacement, which according to Lynn is “shifting an emotion from the real target to a different one” (203). The woman practices this defense mechanism in two instances. The first one is with the cat itself. She becomes fixated on wanting the cat she sees out in the rain. In fact, she mentions wanting the cat verbally ten times in the three-page story. The cat becomes a symbol for what she really deeply wants: something to care for. Many past critics have surmised that the cat represents a baby, but I remain unconvinced. The woman simply wants something to care for and something to receive affection from. The other instance occurs with the hotel owner at the beginning of the story. She likes him a lot—a concerning amount—when all he does is his job. The text repeats the redundancy used with the cat: “She liked the deadly serious way he received complaints. She liked his dignity. She liked the way he wanted to serve her…. She liked…. She liked…. She liked… (Hemingway 92). It is his job to make sure she has a pleasant stay, but rather than acknowledging he is doing a good job, she over-reacts to his service, mistaking it for affection. She misplaces his attention because she is starved for affection and just wants to be heard and treated as though she is important. Ultimately, the key symbol of the story is the cat. The cat triggers in her the idea that she could have something to take care of and receive affection from and that idea clearly resonates with her. She longs for stability—for her table and her long hair, things she associates with a domestic lifestyle. Hemingway’s Theatre of Masculinity describes her obsession with the cat as a result of “the lack of physical and emotional support from George” (Strychaz 67). She identifies with the cat because she too is a cat in the rain—trapped in a small space that she does not want to be in.
“Cat in the Rain” thus gives us a glimpse into the marriage of a young, American couple traveling Europe after the war. The wife is feeling neglected to the point where she no longer reacts. She yearns for a stable, domestic life in which she can grow out her hair, have her own fancy mirror and silverware, and perhaps even a baby. She wants to feel affection and wants something to take care of. It is clear, brief as this glimpse into these lives is, that this is an unhappy marriage that may ultimately end in failure. This can be implied into the life of Hemingway himself: an unhappy marriage, a neglected wife, a cat, and the strife of a baby. He has written it over and over again. Perhaps Freud is correct: we truly are looking into Hemingway’s day-dreams when we read his stories. Maybe Hemingway’s wife is the true cat in the rain.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Cat in the Rain”. In Our Time, Scribner, 2003, pp 91-4. Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing About Literature with Critical Theory, Pearson, 2017. Strychaz, Thomas. Hemingway’s Theatres of Masculinity. Louisianna State University Press, p. 65-72. White, Gertrude M. “We’re All Cats in the Rain”. Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual, 1978, pp 241-6.
Impressions From A Cat In The Rain
Choose one of the stories we have read and rewrite from a small part of it from a different narrative’s point of view. A Cat in the Rain: “I like the way it is” I said. “I get so tired of it,” Sally said. “I get so tired of looking like a boy.” Facing her as she sat on the dressing table, I saw her twiddling with her wedge style pretty brunette hair. I sighed and admired how lucky I was to have her in my life. Back home in Boston, Sally was the Home coming Queen at Central Boston High. We were childhood sweethearts from 6th grade. Sally moved to our neck of the woods in the summer of 1908 with her father Rev. Rex William from down South. Her mother Joanne Beatrice William left her father and took off to Hollywood’s world of glamour. Sally was uniquely odd from ordinary timid girls. She had keen interest in sports. I remember getting bullied by neighborhood boys for associating with Sally too much. Those were the careless and restless days.
My interest in Sally grew deeper with time. We both were seen together in every major social event in our town. We were the “Ideal match” for one another. I couldn’t possibly imagine life without Sally. A year after our graduation from Boston Central High School, I proposed to Sally and we were married the next day. Life couldn’t get more perfect than this.
Sally seemed anxious to have our lives filled with little angels. But it had been five years since our marriage and our garden was still “unblossomed.” The doctors back home tried every diagnosis but to no avail. Then we were led to an auspicious advice from a gynaecologist back home to seek services of Doctor Ivera Cupiccina, a renowned medicinal research scholar in Italy.
We moved to Italy with great expectations. Europe of course had gone through tremendous upheaval of The Great World War. Soon after our arrival in Italy, we rented a room in an apartment by the Bay. We wasted no time and arranged earliest possible appointment with Doctor Ivera Cupiccina. Sally was fluent in Italian since her mother side was Italian. I myself could understand some of it as well. The lab tests from Doctor Ivera Cupiccina came negative and Sally was perfectly healthy to conceive. It only meant one thing. I was impotent. This fact had me in state of denial for weeks. I loved Sally but I couldn’t give her the happiness she always longed for. I wished for once that Sally had not met me. I only wished for her happiness. For her to have a baby and to populate a boisterous home like she always wanted. “You look pretty darn nice” I said. Realizing I had been lost in the memory lane for quite a while now. Sally laid the mirror down on the dresser and walked to the window.
The story cat in the rain, provides an intriguing look into a couple’s life. Depending on the type of narration, it is possible to turn around a story and view it completely differently when you rearrange the style of narration. Originally the story was told from the 3rd person narrator. But I turned it around and changed it to 1st person narrator. The story when looked from the “American Husband’s” point of view is quite different than the original story yet the plot remains the same. It is entirely possible to have different point of views when you regard a story from a peculiar angle. Since two people do not think exactly alike, it is possible to reiterate the story from another person’s thought process while remaining in the same set of circumstances.
A number of stories we have read in class can be described as initiation stories. Choose one and write a short essay explaining how it works as an initiation story.
Cathedral is one of the stories discussed that can be regarded as an initiation story. It’s a 1st person narrative being told from a husband’s perspective of friendship between his wife and a blind man. The narrator is a nave young guy probably in his early twenties. The fact that he is nave is derived from his characterization of the blind man. He seems to have an uneasy feelings towards the disabled man when he discovers that the blind man will soon pay a visit to his house after his wife’s invitation. His views toward blind people were concocted with extreme stereo types. “My idea of blindness came from movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed … A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to (Pp. 184.)” The fact that his understanding of people is only limited to what he saw in the movies is an evidence of his ignorance towards understanding and accepting persons with some disability.
The narrator’s journey process begins when he starts to wonder about how his wife ever got to know the blind man in the first place. It all started few years back when his wife saw an ad to help a blind man perform some routine tasks at his job. She took the position as a temporary summer job. At the end of her summer job she kept in touch with the blind man through exchanging voice recorded tapes. The husband actually met the wife a few years after she befriended the blind guy. This fact somewhat makes husband jealous of the blind man. The wife requests him to make the blind man feel welcomed. “ If you had a friend, any friend, and the friend came to visit, I’d make him feel comfortable (Pp. 186.)”
The narrator, keeping up to his words to his wife, seems to adjust quite well to blind man after they meet. “Did you have a good train ride?(Pp. 187)” , said the husband. He, quite contradictory to his earlier view points toward blind folks, seems to welcome him and gives him good company. The Journey (meeting) is filled with cross introspection from both sides. The husband is not at all uncomfortable with a blind man in his house. In fact the blind man has proven to be a regular guy to the husband. “Robert (Blind man) had done a little of everything, it seemed, a regular blind jack-of-all- trades (Pp.189.)” Blind man on the other hand seemed to know a lot more about the husband than the other way around. When the husband asks the blind man for a drink , the Blind man replies “Bub, I’m a Scotch man myself (Pp.188.)” Blind man’s reference to the husband as “Bub” – short for bubba ( less intelligent being) – seems to indicate as if Blind man has already figured out the personality of the husband. The transformative experience occurs when the husband and the blind man are watching a late night TV documentary show about the cathedrals. The blind man asks the husband to describe how a cathedral looks like to a seeing person (supposedly to test him). After few failed attempts to explain how a cathedral looks like to the blind man, the husband gives up. He is not sure how to transfer such knowledge from a seeing person’s point of perception to a non-seeing person’s point of perception. Later the blind man tells the husband to draw the cathedral first with the eyes open and then with the closed eyes. The transformative process occurs when the husband is amazed when he realizes that he actually drew better with his eyes closed along with blind man’s hand assisting him. “His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was like nothing else in my life upto now (Pp.194.)” The epiphany, or the moment of truth occurs when seeing guy realizes that a blind person can actually perceive world just as if he does if not better.
Human Relationships in Cat in the Rain and the Horse Dealer’s Daughter Novels
Relationships , lust, and love are all things that can consume any man or women no matter what. They can be some of the most confusing things that sometimes may not ever make sense, but that s what makes them so interesting. The two stories Cat In The Rain and The Horse Dealer s Daughter share a common way in which men and women hold their relationships. They basically show that men treat women with a certain cruelty except when they are lusting for them.
In Cat In The Rain by Hemingway there is a young couple staying at hotel that seems to have a tension between them. The wife sees a cat in the rain and goes to retrieve it , but by the time she gets there the cat is gone. Eventually the maid at the hotel brings a cat to her room and throughout the entire story the husband reads his book on the bed. Right away you can tell that the husband doesn t really care too much about his wife is when she says she is going to get the cat. When she says this, the husband offers to get it himself but doesn t even move an inch off the bed. And as the wife is leaving to go get the animal the husband says Don t get wet . If he really was a considerate person he would have at least gotten up and acted interested , but instead he keeps to his book.
Also the comment he says to her before she leaves is almost mocking her and is a very belittling thing to say at that time. It can show how he almost considers what she is doing to be very childish and unimportant. When the wife goes downstairs into the lobby she sees the hotel-keeper and explains how she likes him so much because of the way he serves her and receives any complaints in such a serious manner. As these thoughts go through her head it reflects on her personal life. The only reason she enjoys the hotel-keeper so much is because she doesn t receive any of his qualities or gifts from her own husband. This is a major problem for the girl because the person she has to spend everyday with doesn t even possess the qualities she desires so much. Dignity is something a women can appreciate in a man and her husband doesn t appear to have much of it.
Also when she mentions how she likes the way the hotel-keeper wants to serve her it directly shows her husbands in-ability to want to serve her. When the wife starts to complain about the way she looks the husbands head finally comes out of the book. It says how he starts to look at her profile and her hair. Then he even comments on how he likes the way she looks. Its funny how after all this time goes by he doesn t pay attention to her until there is a chance of any lust. So basically the man cares about his own needs and pays no attention to hers unless he can get something out of it. How can a relationship even exist if all a guy wants is sex and he pays no attention to the women s needs nor does he have any worthy qualities to him? In The Horse Dealer s Daughter by D.H. Lawrence there is a girl named Mabel who is treated poorly by her brothers. And eventually she goes to kill herself because that is her only option and is saved by her doctor. They both then confess their love for each other. Her brothers tease her to the point were they called her bulldog because of her expression she had all the time. They really have no reason to boss her around and make fun of her but yet they all do it.
The love she requires is not present and makes her life extremely difficult being that her parents are gone. When Mabel and her brother s doctor shows up it shows how Jack interestingly enough watches her every movement and makes a sour expression because he is in love with her. This is also a similar situation to the other story because Mabel is stuck with people that don t please her while Jack does, just like the wife and the hotel-keeper. This seems to be a common problem with men and women. The women gets no love or care from the man in her life and notices what she s looking for in another man that is not a big part in her life. Men often hide their feelings because of shame or embarrassment gotten from their peers. Which is the whole reason Jack didn t do anything about his feelings for Mabel until it was almost to late. And it s a little strange that he did undress her before he confessed his love to her , which goes to show that lust once again probably played a small role in his decision making towards her. For him to even wait so long to tell her this is a very wrong thing to do being that he knew all along how her brother s treated her. Also his friends should never keep him from making a decision , you should always just follow your heart no matter what.
All of these things are pretty important because they show a bad view of love between men and women, which can show you how to watch out for things and to know who really cares about you and who doesn t. Women should never get treated in such a harsh way as these stories show and relationships shouldn t be so unhealthy for this to even take place. Men should not just use lust as their only motive and instead actually use other means of affection towards women and then women wouldn t need to find the qualities they are looking for in other men.
A Literary Analysis of Cat in the Rain Versus Indian Camp
CAT IN THE RAIN versus INDIAN CAMPEssay: Discuss a textual element / textual elements that seem(s) to simultaneously occupy the helper and opponent positions (as defined in Greimass actantial model) in ˜Cat in the rain and ˜Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway.
Greimas states that elements in a text fulfil a position in his actantial model. We will discuss some textual elements in both ˜Cat in the rain and ˜Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway that simultaneously occupy the helper and opponent positions. The helper promotes and the opponent opposes the subjects object.˜Cat in the rain is a story that deals with an American wife and her husband spending their holiday in an Italian hotel. According to Greimass model the wife is the subject. George, her husband is the helper.The girl sees a cat under a table in the rain outside and she says m going down and get that kitty (line 17), but her husband wants to help her and offers ll do that (line 18). Here the object is ˜to get that cat and the helper is George, who supports her. When she decides that she herself will get that cat, he wants to be protective and says: œDont get wet (line 19).
After her failed attempt of getting that cat, the wife goes back to their room. When she enters the room George puts down his book and asks her if she was able to get the cat. By putting his book down, he shows that he is interested in what she has on her mind.Another argument that George is the helper, is that on the moment the girl says that she doesnt like herself the way she looks, he confirms that she is beautiful, that he likes her the way she is (line 73).Although it first seemed that George is the helper, when we read carefully, we see that George can also fulfil the position of the opponent in Greimass actantial model.When the girl sees a cat in the rain, she feels the urge to protect that cat. This is what we call ˜childish behaviour: usually only children want to protect pets in the rain. Adults know that rain does not do any harm to pets living on the street. So the American girl behaves as a ˜girl rather than a ˜wife, she is more a child than an adult.George, on the other hand, behaves as a grown-up. He doesnt want to safe a poor cat in the rain, he doesnt feel the need to take care for a cat.
After her nagging all the time, he has enough of it and says: œOh shut up and get something to read (line 87). He gets tired of her childish behaviour.On this point of view George fulfils the position of the opponent. George and his wife are on different, opposite levels: He already is a man, she is still a girl.In ˜Indian Camp, Nick, his father and his uncle George go to an Indian lady who is trying to get a baby. From one point of view, we can say that the Indian lady is the subject according to Greimass model and ˜having a baby is the object. Nicks father, a doctor, is the helper, he helps the lady to give birth. He operates her: œLater when he started to operate (¦) (line 64).We can also say that the doctor is the opponent.
Normally, when a woman is giving birth doctors are nice and friendly. In this story on the other hand, Nicks father treats the Indian lady almost like an animal: œDoing a Caesarean with a jack-knife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders (line 89-90). After the doctor has delivered the baby, œhe was feeling exalted and talkative(¦) (line 86). This is also a sign of the doctors superior and opposite feelings towards the Indian people.From another point of view, we can say that in this story Nick is the subject and the object is ˜a lesson of life, of birth and death. Here again the father is the helper, he gives a description of everything he does during the operation. Nick is slowly learning new things.
But the father can also be the opponent. Hes learning Nick wrong things. During the operation of the woman, he was sometimes so cruel that Nick had to look away: œHe was looking away so as not to see what his father was doing (line 71). Treating a woman like an animal is not a right lesson in life.
After the analysis of these two stories, we can see that there are textual elements which can simultaneously occupy the helper and the opponent positions. Greimass actantial model is useful to analyse stories
Analysis of Cat in the Rain Novel
A commentary on E.Hemingway’s A Cat in the Rain
The multi-faceted shapes and messages that the story has makes it a typical “Hemingwayan” short story. Hemingway was a “Lost Generation” era writer;one who directly witnessed and experienced some of the barbaric wars of the century and one who was personally injured in a war-front,reminding his readers of a character in “The Sun Also Rises”who was injured in a war and thus made sexually handicapped.
Hemingway manages to catch the post-war mood of disillusionment and dissatisfaction by forging an enormous impression through the economy of his style and the “toughness” of attitude of mind.
The aura encircling the present story is of such. The whole story can probably be recapped in its attempt at depicting the barrenness, sterility, incomprehensibility, and misunderstanding that rule the modern world and life which have immensely been affected by modern technology and the resultant automated, robotic life.
Among all these, lack of communication screams at us. Quite ironically, a world which enjoys incomparable wealth of technological communications, the modern man is unable to establish emotional contact with the people around him; this can even engulf a married life, traditional symbol of unity and mutual understanding.
The woman’s strong child-wish and the man sexual impotence make it relatively taxing to have an emotional relation with one another. The wandering couple, both physically and psychologically, have their own pursuits in feeling from the mere thought of a child; the man seeks refuge among his books and the woman daydreams and thinks of saving or having a cat.
The only way that the woman finds in relieving herself from this situation is through making reveries or complaining. The reveries are those of possessing a child. When the Italian girl asks her if she lost something, she replies “Yes”, a cat “under the table….Oh , I wanted it so much. I wanted a kitty. “The indefinite article “a” in” I wanted a kitty “shows that she is not necessarily looking for a specific cat. It can be any cat and it actually can be a child. At her return George asks a cursory question, “Did you get the cat?”.
For a moment he becomes reflective and thoughtful saying “wonder where it want to.” He does not have an immediate answer for this predicament and so resorts to his book starting to read, a solace to his incomprehension of this unsolvable life puzzle. On the other hand the wife has the same bizarre and incomprehensible feeling as her husband. “I don’t know why I wanted it so much.
I wanted that poor kitty.” She avoids the thought of the cat by siting “in front of the mirror of the dressing- table looking at herself….” as he did by studying. The woman is sick and tired of the status quo; she wants some variety and change in her life. Therefore she puts a suggestion to her husband, asking if it would be good if she let her hair grow out. George gives the much expected answer, ” I like it the way it is”; meaning that he would not like her to undergo a change. His wife who is completely hopeless and frustrated starts to the window and in a whispering dramatic monologue says, “I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back I can feel….I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her.”
George’s train of thought is momentarily broken encouraging him to require “Yeah?” The wife does not answer; she goes on with an “and” connecting her disrupted flow of words her wishes with “and I want to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring….” “Oh shut up and get something to read,” comes from George who finds reading a much better solution in forgetting one’s sorrows and pains and not daydreaming, another manifestation of a life lacking communication and understanding.
Desperate and furious, she insists on having a cat, “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. “Contrary to impotent George, there is the virile person of the manager of the hotel, “with his odd, heavy face and big hands.” Clearly the woman has taken a fancy to this “deadly serious” fellow. The hotel manager is very respectful to her and tries to attend to whatever she wants, something rarely happening in her life. Upon her returning to the hotel, again she meets manager with the same masculine, sexually-appealing and dignified face. He arouses a sense of strange ambiguous feeling within her; it is feeling of insignificance and a feeling of eminence.
The woman’s agitation and perplexity are calmed down by the intrusion of the Italian servantess of the hotel who came in with a “big-tortoise shell cat.” symbolically the manager fulfilled her dream and gave her what she hoped to have.