Hemingway's "Cat in the Rain"

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“The Baby on the Brain” In his short story “Cat in the Rain”, Hemingway uses the American Wife and her desire to save a kitty from the rain as showing an underlying desire for something more, specifically a baby. The American Wife and her husband George are the only two Americans staying in a small hotel in a coastal Italian town. At this time in history the Americans that were abroad were mostly in the major cities, especially Paris, so this scene paints a very isolating picture for the young bride. The husband, George, seems distant and consumed by his books. This leaves the wife feeling empty and lonely, her desire to take care of something, anything is overwhelming. Their marriage is obviously in crisis, and that crisis in my opinion is the lack of fertility, “which is symbolically foreshadowed by the public garden (fertility) dominated by the war monument (death).” [Hagopian, 221] From her window she sees a cat who “was trying to make herself so compact she would not be dripped on”; the American wife immediately says “I’m going down to get the kitty.” Her word choice in even describing the cat as “kitty” is very telling, it’s like she has already assigned affection to a foreign object. To me that says that she is so filled with love and affection but with no where to direct it. The American Wife walks downstairs, passes the innkeeper with whom she reveres in almost a fatherly way, and makes it out to the square where she had seen the cat; the cat is gone. It is interesting to note that once she realizes the cat is not there, Hemingway no longer describes her as the American Wife but as the ‘American girl’, “it is almost as if she were demoted in femininity by failing to find a creature to care for.” [Hagopian, 221] The American Wife/girl, is very vocal with her wants, she says she wants to grow her hair long and wear it in a bun, she wants to have a cat
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