What does the cat symbolize in "Once Upon a Time" by Nadine Gordimer?

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The cat in the story “Once Upon A Time” is highly figurative, representing numerous things throughout the tale. As the family is beginning to grow afraid of burglars and preparing for danger to enter their home, the cat causes many events that heighten their fear. In that way, the cat acts as a foreboding symbol or a symbol simply of their fear.

In the story, the cat acts as a symbol also of the family’s vulnerability. Many times, even when the house is locked up or closed to the outside, the cat manages to find a way through the security, causing the family to fear for their safety. The cat trips alarms and motion detectors, heightening the anxiety and sense of foreboding in the story, so it seems the cat acts primarily as a symbol of fear and vulnerability.

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The cat is a symbolic of both domesticity and good sense in this story. He is part of an idyllic domestic order the parents are trying to create within their ever-more enclosed family unit. He is part of a scene that includes...

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