In the short story "The Black Cat", does the story come out of the action or of the word?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not certain what you are asking, but I'm guessing that you mean does the story unfold through the character's actions or through the words of the narrator.  The answer is "both".  The main character, who is in jail on the eve of his hanging death for the murder of his wife, tells the reader the story. He describes the action in such detail though, that the reader "sees" the story unfold through these actions.  The narrator tells the reader in the beginning that he is in jail awaiting execution, but he does not tell the reader why he is going to be put to death.  That is the story which he lets his recounting of his actions tell us.  He keeps the reader in suspense, not revealing until near the end of the story that it was his wife he killed and it was the cat which revealed the location of her body.  He keeps the reader on the edge as he takes the police through his house and even brags on the sturdiness of the walls as he brashly taps them with his cane, the reader knowing his wife's body is sealed in those walls.  This is action telling the story.