With the rain as a backdrop for this short, short story, Hemingway symbolizes both melancholy and isolation, as well as confinement with the rain. It also acts as a barrier when the "American girl" tries to go out and catch the cat that is in the rain. Further, it connotes a certain dullness to things; that is, nothing is vibrant or exciting in the realm in which the man and woman live. As she looks out the window at the war monument to the dead, the wife sees a cat and decides to get it out of the rain. "'I'll do it,' her husband offers from the bed," but he does not move, merely continuing to read after his wife says she will fetch the cat. Equally passive is his "Don't get wet" as she prepares to leave.
That her husband pays her little attention is further suggested by the contrasting behavior of the hotel-keeper who always speaks to her with a certain dignity. His manner, too, pleases the American girl, as he is "so deadly serious" when he receives any compliments. In short, his Old World ways are in sharp contrast to her husband's languid remarks and his apparent apathy. Indeed, her trip downstairs to rescue the cat may have been more to pass through the lobby and receive some masculine attention.
When she returns to their room, her husband puts down his book and asks, "Did you get the cat?" She tells him it was gone, but that she greatly desired it.
"I don't know why I wanted it so much...It isn't any fun to be a poor kitty out in the rain."
Despite her emotional response, "George was reading again," so she moves to the dressing table and mirror, studying her face and profile. "Don't you think it would be a good idea if I let my hair grow out?" she asks, seeking attention. "I like it the way it is," George comments noncommittally. When she continues to try to engage her husband, he shifts on the bed and merely says, "You look pretty darn nice." As she continues her feminine efforts to engage him, George tells her, "Oh, shut up and get something to read," indicating his disconnection and ennui.