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Characters

The Narrator

The narrator is a man who is going to be executed the next day, and he wants to tell his story before his death. As a child, he was docile and humane and tender, and he loved animals. His love of animals followed him into adulthood, and he and his wife acquired a number of pets early in their marriage, including one beautiful and very large black cat called Pluto. The narrator adores the cat but begins to overindulge in alcohol, changing his demeanor toward his wife and his pets. At first, he holds back from abusing the cat, but that eventually changes. Becoming irrationally angry with the cat one night, the narrator cuts one of the cat's eyes out. Soon after, the narrator hangs the cat by the neck from a tree in the garden. He cries as he does so, but he cannot stop himself, though he knows that Pluto has done nothing wrong.

One night not long after, he becomes drunk and finds another cat almost exactly like his first one, but this cat has a white mark on its chest. He takes the cat home but begins to develop an antipathy toward it, and then he notices that it, too, is missing one of its eyes. Soon, he feels that the white shape on the cat's chest has altered; it now looks like a gallows. When the cat nearly trips him on the steps one day, the narrator swings an axe he is carrying, but his wife intercedes, saving the cat. So, the narrator kills his wife with the axe instead. He decides to wall up her body in the basement, but the cat is accidentally trapped in the wall with her corpse, and this is the narrator's undoing. He insists that he is not mad, and he blames much of his murderous and vicious behavior on his alcoholism—he says that his "disease grew upon [him]—for what disease is like Alcohol!" It seems possible that drinking and his addiction to drink turns him into the monster he has become, especially given his gentleness as a child.

The Narrator's Wife

The narrator's wife is fond of animals and procures the couple's first cat. The narrator does not tell us how she responds...

(The entire section is 746 words.)