Form and Content
In an interesting variation on the traditional romantic triangle, The Cat examines the intense relationship between Alain Amparat; his bride, Camille; and Saha, his cat. The story begins one week before their wedding, the event that sets up the tension between the three protagonists. The marriage is endorsed by Mme Amparat even though she quietly laments that Camille is “not quite our type,” a politely condescending attitude which is reflected in Alain’s tacit characterization of his fiancée as “a typical modern girl,” a phrase which subtly reveals both the shallowness of his commitment to her and his belief that the prewar era was superior to his own.
One key to interpreting the novel is Colette’s discussion of Alain’s childhood socialization. He was brought up to live in idle luxury by an adoring mother and an obsequious phalanx of family servants. Although Alain is the titular director of his family’s firm, he has little interest in business. Camille aptly characterizes his attitudes and behavior when she comments, “How awfully eighteen-thirty you are.”
Approximately three years before he married Camille, Alain changed his life forever when he purchased a five-month-old pedigreed Russian Blue cat at a cat show. He sometimes mused wryly that Saha was the only thing he had ever chosen for himself. He believed that through his ability to communicate with her, he had an entry to the entire animal kingdom....
(The entire section is 597 words.)