What is the theme of Hemingway's short story "Cat in the Rain"?

One of the most important themes in Hemingway's short story "Cat in the Rain" is isolation. The American wife depicted in the story feels emotionally estranged from her husband, so much so that she seeks the companionship of a cat.

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Isolation is the theme of this story, as indicated from the first two lines:

There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel. They did not know any of the people they passed on the stairs on their way to and from their room.

More significantly, the unnamed husband and wife are isolated and alienated from each other. They don't seem well suited as a couple. The husband likes to read and is absorbed in his interior life. The wife lives externally, concerned with the outer world: her hair, her clothes, rescuing a kitty from the rain. She seems supremely dissatisfied with her life and seems to have the mistaken idea that if she changes her outer circumstances, her inner life will repair:

And I want to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring and I want to brush my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new clothes.

Both people in this relationship are wounded, members of the alienated Lost Generation that arose after World...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 980 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 12, 2021