Marriage in Cat in the Rain by Earnest Hemingway
Earnest Hemingway, Nobel Prize winner for literature is a world-famous American short story writer. His stories win the heart of his readers by their deep and true presentation of characters. His characters are real, emotional, life-like and practical. They are directly taken from day to day world. This is why his characters make room in the hearts of his readers. George and his unnamed wife are two such characters in the story ‘Cat in the Rain‘. These two characters stand in sharp contrast with each other. While George is a down-right practical, dominating husband, his unnamed wife, the American girl is a love-seeking, emotional wife. Thus, by their contrasting characteristics, they arrest the head and heart of his readers. Let us now see how Hemingway has delineated George and his wife in ‘Cat in the Rain’.
Actually Hemingway’s intriguing short story “Cat in the Rain” revolves round the desire of the wife, the protagonist. The writer presents the story through the contrast between the two characters. He shows us how the husband responds to her desire and it exposes his character. He is cold and unfriendly to her and, in a sense he builds a confinement for her. On the contrary the wife apparently seems silly for her desire, but actually she has maturity in her.
The story is apparently very simple. The wife wants to protect a cat drenching in the afternoon rain. She expresses her desire to her husband that she wants to protect the cat, but the uncaring husband indulges in reading books and responds very dispassionately. He hardly shows any interest in her desire and when she decides herself to get the cat, he only tells her not to get wet. After she fails to get the drenching cat, she feels sad and goes back upstairs; but her husband is still then reading. He pays little attention to her.
This incident exposes the emotional distance between the husband and the wife at the hotel. From the simple incident, it is obvious that she subconsciously desires to feel something. She wants to have love from her husband. She wants a baby. She wants to be a mother. But her husband is totally callous to her desires and feelings. In fact, he is physically present, but emotionally distant. He can’t and doesn’t read into the heart of his wife. He has no eyes to see her physical beauty nor any mind to realize her mental demand. Under the same rock, they are miles apart.
From another point of view, Hemingway has also presented the husband and the wife as poles apart. George is mature while his wife is childish even in her desires. George is domineering and his wife is meek and totally dominated. George’s nonstop reading of books indicates that he is emotionally estranged from his wife.
It also suggests his material obsession. Actually the wife is a victim of an unequal marriage. She suffers terribly from isolation and looks for a companion to pass time, she also lacks courage and metal strength to establish her position. She is, at times, even silenced by George’s cool utterances. She continually refers to the cat as a “kitty”, and her most significant speech in the story is delivered in front of a mirror, when she says,
“I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I can feel. I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her…. 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.”
Here with his serious behaviour, he treats his wife like a child because they are on different levels: he already is a man, she is still a girl. Her husband seems to be annoyed by this desire and is not interested at all. To him, the wife is a rather silly, childish, petulant woman. So, they cannot find a mutual base for their relationship and that makes her bored by him and him annoyed by her.
Thus Hemingway strikes a contrast between the husband and the wife in “Cat in the Rain“. They have no emotional understanding between them. They are in a wed-lock, under the same roof, but they are two different persons of two different psychological planets. While George is a callous, domineering, uncaring husband, his wife is care-seeking, companion-seeking, emotional woman.