Cat in the Rain


Ernest Hemingway

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Themes and Colors
Longing and Disappointment Theme Icon
Loneliness and Isolation  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Femininity Theme Icon
Tourism and War Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Cat in the Rain, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Longing and Disappointment

In Ernest Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain,” a woman’s yearning to bring a cat indoors becomes an embodiment of all her longing and desire. On a rainy day in Italy, the unnamed protagonist of the story, an American wife, spots a cat from the window of the hotel room she shares with her husband, George. Her sudden impulse to save the cat from the rain, however, is frustrated when she descends to the…

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Loneliness and Isolation

Set on a rainy day in Italy, “Cat in the Rain” has an atmosphere of isolation and loneliness. The unnamed American wife is unable to find the companionship and emotional closeness she seeks from those around her—including from her husband George, despite that they are living in the same hotel room. To assuage her feelings of loneliness, she becomes fixated on getting a cat. Hemingway’s brief tale implicitly argues for the importance of…

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Gender Roles and Femininity

Published in 1925, a time of liberation and new-found freedoms for many women, “Cat in the Rain” projects a clear ambivalence regarding certain changes in women’s position in society. The female protagonist herself—a short-haired, ostensibly childless wife living out of a hotel room—seems to bristle at being distanced from more stereotypical femininity, as is evidenced by her ultimate longing to embrace a more traditional woman’s role (that is, to be a caretaker, a homemaker, to…

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Tourism and War

“Cat in the Rain” depicts an American couple on holiday in Italy shortly after the First World War. In doing so, the story inherently foregrounds issues around tourism, difference, and foreign identity. The American wife’s longings—which include having the cat as a pet—become mundane when played out against the backdrop of the conflict that had recently traumatized Europe. Implicitly contrasting the wife’s dissatisfactions with the tragedy of war of which she hardly seems aware…

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