The Black Cat Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

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What is the significance of the fire in Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Black Cat"? There's a symbolic phenomenon that I don't seem to understand.

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The fire functions on at least two levels of symbolism in the story. First, it's arguably a punishment directed against the narrator by God, fate, or any supernatural avenging force, for his abuse and murder of Pluto. Though in general Poe's tales seem to take place in a random and irrational universe, there is at least an implied form of moral justice that emerges at crucial points within his narratives. In "The Black Cat," the message that comes through is the obvious and time-honored one that crime doesn't pay. Not only are the man's wealth and property destroyed, but the gigantic image of the cat that appears on the wall is a warning to him that a supernatural avenger is present that will destroy him personally as well.

Poe also uses the fire as a mechanism to reveal more and more of the narrator's aberrant mental state. The man's rationale for the huge image of the cat is a convoluted exercise in denial and fantasy. He actually believes, or says he does, that someone cut Pluto's...

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vampiric | Student

Doesnt the fire cast a shadow of the Cat causeing it to seem bigger?