Themes and message



The American wife, the main character in the story “Cat in the Rain” by Ernest Hemingway, is a woman who is dissatisfied with her life and, implicitly, with her marriage. The story shows that her husband, George, likes to read and travel, while the woman wants to settle down.

It is also implied that the American woman might be frustrated at how she is treated by George, as she clearly responds in a positive manner to the attention that the hotel owner gives her: “The padrone made her feel very small and at the same time really important. She had a momentary feeling of being of supreme importance.” (ll. 44-45)

Meanwhile, her husband George largely ignores her – he spends his time reading in bed and then fails to understand the feeling of frustration behind his wife’s wish to change her appearance, have a cat, her own silverware and candles, and new clothes.

Moreover, he explicitly dismisses her (l. 68), which suggest that he experiences a feeling of frustration as well, because in his mind she is complaining about unimportant things.

The theme of frustration is also subtly explored through the American woman’s interaction with the maid, which the story suggests is slightly awkward. The maid laughs when the woman tells her she wants a cat (l. 37) and then cannot understand her when she starts speaking English (l. 39). This suggests the frustrations that some travellers might encounter in countries where they encounter language or cultural barriers.


The theme of isolation is explored in connection with the setting, the characters, and the relat...

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