What are the plot, main theme and moral lessons in "The Cat in the Rain" by Ernest Hemingway?Each part separately

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short story "Cat in the Rain" by Ernest Hemingway focuses on two Americans in a hotel in Italy. Their room is on the second story, and it faces the sea, a war monument, and the garden. The wife, at times called the American wife or the American girl, stares out the window and sees a cat crouched under a table in the rain. The husband, George, remains on the bed, reading, during the entire story. The wife decides to rescue the cat, but when she gets downstairs, it is gone. She returns to their room, disappointed she did not get the cat and dissatisfied with her life. At the close of the story, the maid brings her a cat.

The themes of isolation and discontent are apparent in this story. The American couple is isolated from the others in the hotel. As well, they are ex-patriots in Europe after WWI, so they are isolated from their country. The war monument becomes a symbol of this isolation. When the wife wants the cat, Hemingway calls her the American girl, and she says she wants a kitty. This immature language shows her helplessness. She also wants her own silverware, new clothes, and springtime. All these desires illustrate her discontent with life in the hotel. However, at the end of the story, she tells George that she wants a cat—no longer does she call it a kitty. The wife appears to be certain of her needs, and one of these needs is fulfilled.

George never moves from the bed during the entire time and treats his wife somewhat like a child: " 'Oh, shut up and get something to read,' George said. He was reading again." George's character shows no change throughout the story, whereas the wife is secure and gets her cat at the end, one of her desires. Whether or not their relationship survives is questionable given George's behavior and his wife's needs.

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Cat in the Rain" is like many Hemingway stories. It has a very simple plot and the reader must read between the lines in order to understand the story's theme. The plot centers around two Americans who are visiting Italy. It starts to rain and they go into a hotel in order to get out of the rain. In their hotel room, the wife sees a cat in the square below trying to shield itself from the rain drops. The woman decides she wants the cat. She leaves her hotel room to rescue the cat but by the time she gets to the square, the cat has vanished. She returns to her room, briefly converses with her husband and then the main appears with a cat for her. Whether this is the same cat the wife saw in the square is not known, but she has her cat nevertheless. 

As one reads this very short story, the reader must be aware that every word is important. The theme of the story revolves around the lack of communication between George, the husband, and his wife, who is never named. Neither one of the couple ever communicates his or her true desires and the woman seems to be dominated by her husband. When she finally does get a cat which is sent by the hotel manager, it is an indication that George is not interested in fulfilling her desires and she will have to have her needs met by someone else.