Cat in the Rain

by

Ernest Hemingway

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The American Wife Character Analysis

The story’s protagonist is a nameless young American woman on holiday in Italy with her husband, George. She is attractive, with short boyish hair. She is clearly unhappy, bored, and lonely, spending much time gazing out of the window of the hotel room she shares with George, from whom she seems to be disconnected. However, when she sees a cat in the rain across the street, she perks up, telling George that she’s going to go find it and bring it to their hotel. Her deep sense of dissatisfaction and alienation is not only embodied in her disappointment in failing to find the cat, but also in the litany of complaints and desires that she shares with George. She seems to feel ambivalent about her own femininity. On the one hand she takes an independent stance in rejecting her husband’s offer to find the cat on her behalf. On the other hand, the desires that she expresses to George—such as her desire for long hair, silver, and a creature to nurture—reflect an attraction to conventional femininity. As an American, she seems to be oblivious to the destruction that has recently been wrought in Europe by the First World War (1914-1918), destruction which is embodied not only in the desolate, rainy weather, but also in the war monument that the hotel room overlooks.

The American Wife Quotes in Cat in the Rain

The Cat in the Rain quotes below are all either spoken by The American Wife or refer to The American Wife. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Cat in the Rain published in 1998.
Cat in the Rain Quotes

There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel. They did not know any of the people they passed on the stairs on their way to and from their room.

Related Characters: The American Wife, George
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

Italians came from a long way off to look up at the war monument. It was made of bronze and glistened in the rain. It was raining. The rain dripped from the palm trees. Water stood in pools on the gravel paths…The motor cars were gone from the square by the war monument.

Related Characters: The American Wife
Related Symbols: The War Monument
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

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 wife said… “The poor kitty out trying to keep dry under a table.”

Related Characters: The American Wife (speaker), George
Related Symbols: The Cat
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

The wife liked [the hotel-keeper]. She liked the deadly serious way he received any complaints. She liked his dignity. She liked the way he wanted to serve her.

Related Characters: The American Wife, George, The Hotel-keeper
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

With the maid holding the umbrella over her, she walked along the gravel path until she was under their window. The table was there, washed bright green in the rain, but the cat was gone. She was suddenly disappointed.

Related Characters: The American Wife, The Maid
Related Symbols: The Cat
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

Ha perduto qualche cosa, Signora?”

“There was a cat,” said the American girl.

“A cat?”

Sì, il gatto.”

“A cat?” the maid laughed. “A cat in the rain?”

“Yes,” she said, “under the table.” Then, “Oh, I wanted it so much. I wanted a kitty.”

When she talked English the maid’s face tightened.

Related Characters: The American Wife (speaker), The Maid (speaker), The Maid
Related Symbols: The Cat
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

As the American girl passed the office, the padrone bowed from his desk. Something felt very small and tight inside the girl. The padrone made her feel very small and at the same time really important.

Related Characters: The American Wife, The Hotel-keeper
Related Symbols: The Cat
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

“Don’t you think it would be a good idea if I let my hair grow out?” she asked, looking at her profile again.

George looked up and saw the back of her neck clipped close like a boy’s.

“I like it the way it is.”

“I get so tired of it,” she said. “I get so tired of looking like a boy.”

Related Characters: The American Wife (speaker), George (speaker)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

“I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I can feel,” she said. “I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her.”

“Yeah?” George said from the bed.

“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 from of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new clothes.”

“Oh, shut up and get something to read,” George said.

Related Characters: The American Wife (speaker), George (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Cat
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:

In the doorway stood the maid. She held a big tortoise-shell cat pressed tight against her and swung down against her body.

“Excuse me,” she said, “the padrone asked me to bring this for the Signora.”

Related Characters: The Maid (speaker), The American Wife, George, The Hotel-keeper
Related Symbols: The Cat
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cat in the Rain PDF

The American Wife Character Timeline in Cat in the Rain

The timeline below shows where the character The American Wife appears in Cat in the Rain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Cat in the Rain
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
Tourism and War Theme Icon
Standing at her hotel window and looking out, the American wife takes in the rainy scene. She notices a cat under a café table, trying to... (full context)
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
Tourism and War Theme Icon
When the American wife goes downstairs, she passes the hotel-keeper’s office. As the consummate host, he rises from his... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
...to stand behind his desk, the narrator communicates again to the reader that the American wife likes him, including the “deadly serious way” he receives complaints. She likes him not only... (full context)
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
The American wife opens the hotel door and looks out. It’s raining harder, and there’s a man in... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Tourism and War Theme Icon
The American wife ventures out towards the café with the maid holding the umbrella over her head. When... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
The American wife and the maid go back along the gravel path and enter through the hotel door.... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
The American wife continues upstairs. There, she opens the door to her room to find her husband George... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
The American wife sits down on the bed, and tells George that she wants the cat so much,... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
The American wife goes to the dressing table, where she sits examining herself with a hand glass. She... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
The wife lays down the mirror and goes to the window to look out. It’s getting dark.... (full context)
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
The American wife continues to stare out of the window. It’s dark outside but still raining. She repeats... (full context)