Ernest Hemingway’s “A Cat in the Rain”: Symbolism.
AUTORA: Vanesa Duque León
“A Cat in the Rain” is a non-fiction story that belongs to Ernest
In a 1958 interview, Hemingway expressed his literary
concern in a way that shows how his art both depends
on and radically departs from conventional “realism”:
“From things that have happened and from things as
they exist and from all the things that you know and all
those that you cannot know, you make something
through your invention that is not a representation but a
whole new thing truer than any thing true and alive.
(The Harper American Literature, 1156)
In “A Cat in the Rain,” Hemingway demonstrates his ...view middle of the document...
Across the square in
the doorway of the cafe a waiter stood looking out at
the empty square.
With the introduction of this single paragraph, Hemingway has set
out the background, that is, the setting of this story. It is a long description
of the environment in good weather, which means spring or summer; then a
description of the momentary situation in the rain. The photographic
description of the place is absorbing and, in it, the weather plays an
important role. Weather descriptions usually constitute substantial part in
Hemingway’s writing and introduce the readers into the atmosphere of the
story. This description creates an atmosphere that is sad, cold and
unfriendly. To create this atmosphere, the author uses words such as
“empty” or “the motorcars were gone”. Later on, we will see this as a kind
of advanced mention to the state of the couple’s relationship. Another
symbolic hint in this introduction is the “war monument”, which is
mentioned three times, probably, to tell us that a conflict is to be expected.
Ernest Hemingway’s “A Cat in the Rain”
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.
"I'm going down and get that kitty," the American
"I'll do it," her husband offered from the bed.
"No, I'll get it. The poor kitty is out trying to keep
dry under the table."
The husband went on reading, lying propped up
with the two pillows at the foot of the bed.
"Don't get wet," he said.
As we see, in order to introduce the main characters and set up the
situation, Hemingway uses short sentences, dialogues and descriptions of
movements and gestures, which, at first sight, seem to be pointless but are
highly relevant to the plot. The language used is very simple.
In this part of the story the main characters are presented: “The
American wife” and “the husband”. Each of them seem to be isolated from
each other. We see the different paradigms: she is looking out of the
window and he is reading all the time: “The husband went on reading,
lying propped up with the two pillows at the foot of the bed.” “George was
on the bed reading.” “George was reading again.” “He was reading again.”
It has been highlighted by those repetitions that George is reading. We see
the opposition in the things they are doing. The American wife is looking
out the window and sees a cat in the rain, which she wants to protect from
the raindrops. When she goes out of the hotel, kept by an old Italian who
seems to do everything to please her, and wants to get the cat, it is gone.
After returning to the hotel, she starts a conversation with her husband,
George, who keeps on reading. He seems to be annoyed and not interested
at all in what she is saying: “Oh, shut up and get something to read, George
said. He was reading again.”