What is the message behind the short story "Cat in the Rain" by Ernest Hemingway?

Expert Answers

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

The short story “Cat in the Rain” was written by Ernest Hemingway and was first published in 1925. The story is about a couple on holiday in Italy. It is raining outside and the wife feels sorry for a cat she sees outside, as it “was crouched under one of the dripping green tables.” She decides to go outside in order to rescue it, but the cat has disappeared by the time the woman gets there.

Despite the story being about a couple, the main theme in the story is loneliness. Through his story, Hemingway tries to show that it is possible to be in a relationship, yet still feel lonely and long for affection and companionship. The husband, George, clearly has no interest in talking to his wife, as he tells her to “shut up and get something to read” when his wife is trying to talk to him.

After having been in a relationship for a while, many people start to coast in a relationship. They start taking it for granted and they stop making an effort or taking an interest in the other person. This leads to people feeling lonely and isolated, as is the case for the woman in this story. She craves closeness and affection, but she is not getting that from her husband. She had hoped to find this in the company of the cat, but sadly the cat has gone.

One could even go as far as saying that perhaps the woman would like a child, but as the couple hasn’t got a child, having a cat would be the next best thing to make up for this.

Therefore, the main message of the story is that it is important to keep on working on a relationship, to keep each other company and to actively share each other’s joys and sorrows, rather than falling into the trap of coasting and indifference. Otherwise, according to Hemingway, this will lead to loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team