What is the rising action in the story "The Black Cat"?

Expert Answers

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

As “The Black Cat” opens, the narrator establishes that he is going to die tomorrow, then gives some backstory/exposition: that he was an animal lover as a child; that he and his wife have a number of animals as pets, including a cat; and that the narrator has a particularly strong bond with the cat.

The rising action begins when he explains how he began drinking too much and his character began to change. It continues through the story of how he cuts the cat’s eye out, then grows even angrier with the cat, and eventually kills it. This is the first climactic event in the story. But the action then rises further to another climactic event: after a fire consumes their house, another cat appears. The narrator at first loves the cat, then becomes enraged and tries to kill it, and finally kills his wife when she tries to stay his hand. This is truly the moment of no return for the narrator, as he has killed not only a cat but also a human being.

The rest of the story consists of the falling action, in which the narrator describes his attempts to cover up the murder, and the denouement, which describes how he is caught.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Everything up to the point where the narrator taps on the wall and the second cat screams--making the reader think it is the spirit of his entombed wife--is the rising action.  The tapping on the wall and the immediate circumstances that follow are the climax (point of greatest tension or excitement) of the story.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allen Poe, the rising action begins when the narrator starts drinking and abusing the cat.  The situation escalates because he feels remorse but once again drink causes him to abuse the cat and then he hangs it outside.  The narrator and his wife get a second cat and here the ultimate downfall of the narrator starts.  The narrator begins abusing his wife and is afraid of the new cat.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team