What event from "The Black Cat" seems to prove the wife's superstition about cats to be correct?

The superstition of the narrator's wife in "The Black Cat" that cats are witches in disguise seems to be proved correct when their house catches fire the night after the narrator kills Pluto by hanging him from a tree. The next day, the narrator sees the figure of a cat with a rope round its neck on the wall of the burned house.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Having said that his cat, Pluto, was unusually intelligent, the narrator of "The Black Cat" continues:

In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise.

The narrator thinks that his wife was not quite serious on this point but mentions it in any case, and it has a clear bearing on the events he relates.

As he tells his story, the narrator is under sentence of death. Though the crime for which he is to be executed is the murder of his wife, he also seems to feel that he is being punished for his cruelty to the two cats in the story, particularly the first, Pluto. The narrator gouged out Pluto's eye with his pocketknife in a fit of drunken rage, then, later, killed the cat by hanging him by the neck from a tree in his garden. The fact that he is now due to be executed, probably in a similar manner, might be taken as evidence of Pluto's supernatural power of revenge. However, this event was also foreshadowed the night after he killed Pluto, when his house burned down. Although the burning of the house might, by itself, be regarded as a coincidence, he returns the next day to find "the figure of a gigantic cat" with a rope around its neck on the wall of the ruined house. This seems to confirm his wife's superstition.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial