What are the themes in Hemingway's "Cat in the Rain"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway's "Cat in the Rain" focuses on a typical American wife's disillusionment with marriage. On the surface, Kitty and George seem to be living a rather romantic lifestyle. They are staying in Italy and have nothing but time to spend with one another.  The problem is, however, that Kitty wants attention and affection that George is either unwilling or unable to provide.  When Kittymentions that she wants to go down and get the cat, George barely responds.  Later, Kitty thinks about how much she enjoys the hotel keeper's respectful attitude toward her--that is what she longs for from her husband. In the end, Kitty is the figurative "cat in the rain."

The story not only represents Hemingway's portrayal of an American marriage but also his view of America in general. The author was part of the Lost Generation--the group of young Americans who became disillusioned with their country after World War I and who left for "greener pastures" and adventure in Europe.  George and Kitty seem to be members of that generation, seeking something new and exciting in Italy. Instead, both are bored, trapped inside a hotel because of the rain, and unable to effectively communicate with one another.