Cat’s Eye

by

Margaret Atwood

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Jon Character Analysis

Elaine’s first husband, who also aspires to be a painter and artist. Unsuccessful in his artistic career, however, he takes on a job designing props for movie sets. He has frequent affairs and seems to relish his easy relationships with women. He also does not want to keep a clean house and dismisses Elaine’s art style as conventional and illustrative. Although he and Elaine marry when she becomes pregnant with Sarah, Jon continues to have affairs and they fight until they divorce. Jon represents a certain kind of young idealism that ends up quenched with the entrance into normal adult life.

Jon Quotes in Cat’s Eye

The Cat’s Eye quotes below are all either spoken by Jon or refer to Jon . 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:
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Cat’s Eye published in 1998.
Part 2 Quotes

What we share, Jon and I, may be a lot like a traffic accident, but we do

share it. We are survivors, of each other. We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat. That counts for something.

Related Characters: Elaine Risley (speaker), Jon
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 10 Quotes

We are silent, considering shortfalls. There’s not much time left, for us to become what we once intended. Jon had potential, but it’s not a word that can be used comfortably any more. Potential has a shelf life.

Related Characters: Elaine Risley (speaker), Jon
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Cat’s Eye LitChart as a printable PDF.
Cat’s Eye PDF

Jon Character Timeline in Cat’s Eye

The timeline below shows where the character Jon appears in Cat’s Eye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Two: Silver Paper
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...it because they favor dead men. She is staying in the apartment of her ex-husband, Jon, a studio on the waterfront. He left a note that said “Blessings” with the key,... (full context)
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Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
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Elaine thinks about the last time she saw Jon, at Sarah’s graduation. They stole away to get lunch and “got plastered,” which confused her... (full context)
Part Three: Empire Bloomers
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
In Jon’s apartment, Elaine reflects on the difficulty that she sometimes has getting out of bed, and... (full context)
Part Seven: Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...other Risleys, or Josef Hrbik, or Cordelia. She remembers earlier on in her relationship to Jon, when she got angry about a woman who walked into his apartment while Elaine was... (full context)
Part Nine: Leprosy
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
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...deliberately provocative at the opening in order to confirm everyone’s deepest suspicions; she considers using Jon’s ax-murder special effects, but at the same time knows that she would never do any... (full context)
Part Ten: Life Drawing
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
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Jon arrives late to dinner with Elaine, and they flirt a little. When they discuss their... (full context)
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...the nicer “Ladies and Escorts” section if a girl accompanies them. The boys, among them Jon, tease the other absent girls for being lady painters, and say “if you’re bad, you’re... (full context)
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...talks about her with Susie the way he discusses Susie with her. Around this time, Jon appears at the Swiss Chalet, where Elaine works. He has a summer job filling in... (full context)
Part Eleven: Falling Women
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Elaine has continued to pursue a relationship with both Josef and Jon, and fallen in love with both of them. She keeps the two secret from each... (full context)
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Jon takes pride in his messy home and his art, which should capture “pure painting.” He... (full context)
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Now only dating Jon, Elaine feels more virtuous because she is no longer hiding anything from him, although he... (full context)
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...starts doing mock-ups for companies and rents her own apartment with a real bed. Although Jon makes fun of her for her decorating tastes, he prefers to stay at her apartment... (full context)
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War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Jon has moved on from painting geometrical shapes and now does pictures that resemble commercial illustrations,... (full context)
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Elaine does his Jon’s laundry now, and on Sundays they sleep in late and go on long walks holding... (full context)
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
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...learned as a mother that she did not have to know before. She lives with Jon as a family (they married because of the pregnancy), and dresses in mini-skirts. Elaine is... (full context)
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...is finally coming back into the world after a year of living in a fog. Jon also loves Sarah, which surprises Elaine and which she feels grateful for. He had wanted... (full context)
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Jon and Elaine start have intense fights, which involve throwing things at each other. At the... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
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...protective, and as an exhausted housewife in a painting called Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Jon looks down on her paintings, because he sees them as irrelevant; however, Elaine sees a... (full context)
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...female friends. This makes her think of Cordelia, whom she has not seen for years. Jon has not arrived at the opening despite having promised to attend, so Elaine considers flirting... (full context)
Part Twelve: One Wing
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...own versions of the past, because made a painting called Life Drawing about him and Jon—both naked and painting a model, who has a marble-like sphere of bluish glass for a... (full context)
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Elaine meets Jon at the roof bar of the Park Plaza Hotel, where she used to go with... (full context)
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The narrative skips back to earlier in their relationship, when Elaine realized that Jon was having affairs. She collects evidence, but does not confront him at once.  Jon confronts... (full context)
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...can’t see it.” She feels like she might as well be dead. One night, when Jon does not come home, she hears a voice and cuts herself with an Exacto knife;... (full context)
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...because she feels like it is the city that is killing her as much as Jon. She takes Sarah, and writes a note to leave him, then makes a peanut butter... (full context)
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Eventually, Jon comes to visit as a move towards reconciliation, and Elaine’s parents also come to visit... (full context)
Part Thirteen: Picoseconds
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Elaine wakes late in Jon’s apartment, dresses in a cerise jogging suit, and reads the paper to kill time. She... (full context)
Part Fourteen: Unified Field Theory
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
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...in chronological order: the early paintings characterized by Charna as female symbolism, the paintings of Jon and Josef, Mrs. Smeath. She tries to see her childhood self in Mrs. Smeath’s eyes,... (full context)