The Black Cat Key Plot Points
by Edgar Allan Poe

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Key Plot Points

The Narrator Introduces His Story: The narrator states that he will detail for the readers the series of “mere household events” that have brought him to ruin. He explains that he had always been a docile person and a great lover of animals. His wife, who is of a similar disposition, buys pets to keep in their home. His favorite is a large black cat named Pluto.

The Narrator Increases His Drinking: The narrator describes a change in his personality due to the “Fiend Intemperance,” or alcohol, becoming irritable and mean and abusing his wife and animals. When Pluto scratches the narrator, he becomes enraged and cuts out one of Pluto’s eyes. The cat heals but is now fearful of the narrator, who is grieved by his actions. To combat the guilt, he drinks more.

The Narrator Becomes Immoral: The narrator’s feelings of guilt are soon overridden by something he calls “the spirit of PERVERSENESS.” This change in his temperament makes him lose empathy for those around him, and he begins to “do wrong for the wrong’s sake only.” One day he hangs and kills Pluto, weeping while he does it since he understands that he is sinning and feels bitterly remorseful.

The Narrator’s House Burns Down: The narrator’s house catches fire, and everything is burned. Examining the ruins after the fire, the narrator finds a crowd of people around a still-standing wall. The crowd is looking at an imprint on the wall: a cat with a noose around its neck. The narrator is astounded by this sight and tries to rationalize it. In the following months, “the phantasm of the cat” haunts him.

The Narrator Acquires Another Black Cat: At a tavern, the narrator notices a black cat. It looks remarkably similar to Pluto, being the same size and color, except for a splotch of white fur on its chest. The narrator befriends the cat and takes it home, where his wife becomes fond of it. Soon, however, the narrator begins to loathe the cat. It is a reminder of his awful actions, and its affection for him only annoys him. He notices, the morning after its adoption, that the cat is missing...

(The entire section is 574 words.)