Ernest Hemingway?S ?Cat In The Rain? Essay, Research Paper
In today’s society, people have the assumptions that we have evolved far beyond past cultural notions and marital stereotypes. The reality to this is that we are not so superior and tend to take the easy way out in relationships. This is reflected through our atrocious divorce rate. The American wife in Ernest Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain,” although controlled by her husband, George, is an obvious victim of marital neglect. While vacationing in Italy, the romance capital of the world, George’s use of control and carelessness cause the wife to focus on a stray cat for fulfillment.
Although the couple is on a romantic vacation, George proceeds to neglect his wife. This is evident not only in his mannerisms but also in his lack of involvement in her want for the cat. When the wife says that she wants to go get the cat, George makes a poor attempt at offering to help. Unmoving and still laying in his same position on the bed, he remains focused on his book, and offers a half-hearted “I’ll get it”(533). Since she is not looked after by her husband, she takes comfort in the fact that the innkeeper takes a liking to her and a concern to her well-being. By offering her an umbrella and his assistance “the pardone made her feel very small and at the same time very important. She had a momentary feeling of supreme importance” (534). Often times women who are neglected need to seek outside attention, whether negative or positive. The fact that the pardone gave the American wife this feeling of importance reflects the lack of attention or even affection she receives from George. On the other hand, she can be like
most women who are, in fact, attention whores. These are the type of women who, no matter how much attention they receive from any particular source still demand more. While she very well can be an attention whore, the American wife’s extreme need for notice is a direct result of George’s inability to pay her the attention of which she thrives.
Even though George is a neglectful husband, his controlling nature is of the sort that denies her many of her wants, needs, and desires. Many things in the American wife’s life are not as she wishes them to be. She would like to have longer hair as well new clothes, silver, and candles. Some would suggest that these needs are just superficial and material needs, that they hold no relevance into the fact that she is ignored. On the contrary, her inability to obtain these things or to be allowed these things reflect the domineering traits George possesses. Sometimes when a spouse is controlling over his counterpart, it is because of a fear of losing their significant other. That somehow if George’s wife were to have long hair she would look a lot prettier, making him more vulnerable to the fact she could leave him. Another reason for George not to allow his wife to grow her hair when she confesses that she is “so tired of looking like a boy”(534) is because he wants her to look as though she is not truly a woman, more of an immature object whom he has control over. As she continues to describe her longing to look like a girl, with long hair with “a big knot at the back that I can feel”(535) and her desires for “a kitty and some new clothes”(535) George simply orders her to “shut up and get something to read”(535). George just doesn’t want to hear it. His wife is almost slave-like to him, any opinions expressed result in George’s responses just to get her to stop talking. What kind of marriage are these two entangled in? Obviously the American wife is putting up with a lot, doing all that she can to please while George tells her how to act, dress, and even wear her hair. Even though she is controlled, it isn’t entirely George’s fault because she subjects herself to that type of treatment.
As the American wife becomes enthralled in retrieving the cat, some questions arise as to why she is so focused, and what the cat represents. When women or anybody for that matter are neglected, they turn to animals or objects for a sort of therapy. They can become the caretaker of such things as a cat and find beauty and care in them which they know they possess, however they just can’t come to terms with because of certain outside factors. In this case, a controlling husband. Since she describes the cat as “a poor kitty out in the rain”(534) which she wants so much but doesn’t know why, she sees herself in the cat, as though she is stuck in the rain having no fun. She identifies with the poor kitty and wants to care for it. After all, misery loves company. One could argue that her need for the cat is just another one of her many needs, that nothing is ever enough for her. Here they are, this American couple, on holiday in Italy, which George obviously provided for her, and all she can think of is having more stuff. “I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can’t have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat”(535). Here she is shown as just an immature child-like “girl” who is clearly spoiled rotten. This kind of behavior only precludes the fact that George is neglectful. George is doing quite a lot to make her happy and she is ungrateful, unhappy with herself to the extent that she needs to constantly look to new sources for attention and approval. On the other hand, the fact that she feels so grand when the innkeeper shows her attention makes me believe that she really isn’t receiving enough attention from who she most certainly should be receiving it from, her own husband. It is almost like she looks to him for the protection and care her husband cannot provide. This goes back to the immaturity issue, like she needs to be rescued or something, or maybe even seeking a father figure. The whole idea that she wants to rescue the cat from the rain reflects her own desire to be rescued. On her way to do so, the pardone happens to be there to help, or offer assistance and make her important.
In conclusion, I think that although the American wife does possess traits which make her spoiled, and even immature, she is definitely a victim of neglect.