Repetition in Hemingway’s Short Story Cat in the Rain
Repetition in Hemingway’s short story Cat in the Rain Ernest Hemingway was one of the greatest American novelists and short-story writers of the 20th century. He cleaned up American prose and made it just simplier and down to earth. At that time this was a particular type of modernism in America. Typical for Hemingway’s prose writing was also the girlish aspect, it was more dark, the meaningless world, that nothing makes sense.
In this context Hemingway had the opinion that people think in simple terms and therefore that they think in repetitions. Hemingway also thought in repetitions. To make this clearer, I’m going to show you Hemingway’s use of repetitions in one of his famous works, Cat in the Rain . But first the short story will be summarized in a briefly way. Despite the fact that the short story Cat in the Rain covers only a few minutes, we can get a sufficient insight into the married life of an American couple as the following summary will show.
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The short story Cat in the Rain is about an American couple that spends their holidays in a hotel in Italy. It is a rainy day and for that reason the two people called “the Americans” have to stay in their room. While the woman is looking out of the window, she sees a cat in the rain which she definitely wants to protect. When she goes out of the hotel, she passes the old Italian hotel-owner who seems to do everything to please her. As the American woman reaches the yard to fetch the kitty, it already has disappeared.
After returning to the hotel room, she starts talking to her husband George, who is lying in bed and reading all the time, about how much she wants to have a cat and a lot more things like longer hair, her own silver to eat with or candles, but her husband only seems to be annoyed and not interested at all by his wife’s moment of distress so that he wants an end to this conversation. At the end of the short story there is a knock on the door and the maid stands there holding a big tortoise-shell-cat in her hands.
It is a present from the hotel-owner for the American woman. The greater part of Cat in the Rain is written in a dramatic mode presented as a dialogue (scenic presentation). When we read Hemingway’s short story we don’t know anything about the couples` background or what their every-day-life is like, but this scene makes sure that they have martial problems and that everything between them has become routine, which is best shown by the huge number of repetitions in the text.
The man is reading all the time and he is always lying on the bed as it is shown in line 25 “the husband went on reading, lying propped up with the two pillows at the foot of the bed”, lines 66-67 “George was on the bed reading”, line 70 “resting his eyes from reading”, line 76 “George was reading again”, line 95 “George said from the bed”, line 100 “he was reading again” and in line 106 “George was not listening. He was reading his book. ”
In contrast his wife is either standing or she is always moving from one place to another what we can see in line 17 “The American wife stood at the window looking out. , line 21 ”I’m going down”, line 28 “The wife went downstairs”, line 29 “as she passed the office”, line 38 “she opened the door and looked out”, line 41 “As she stood in the doorway”, lines 45-46 “she walked along the gravel path”, line 62 “As the American girl passed the office”, lines 65-66 “She went on up the stairs. She opened the door of the room. ”, line 77 “She went over and sat in front of the mirror of the dressing table”, and in line 90 “She laid the mirror down and went over the window and looked out. ”.
If we compare this two people, we can find out that the husband is the passive and the wife the active part in this relationship. As a result it seems that the American woman really wants something to be changed; while it seems as if the man doesn’t want any change at all.