The relation between the husband and wife in ‘Cat in the Rain’

The relation of American husband and wife in ‘Cat in the Rain’ is not good. The theme of isolation in Hemingway’s short story, ‘Cat in the Rain’ is presented nicely. Though the he American wife in this short story is a lovely woman.

Apparently, the short story ‘Cat in the Rain’ is about the desire of an American wife vacationing in Italy, to rescue a cat from an afternoon rain storm and her failure to do so. But it is not a simple story about a lady’s wish to save a cat from rain. It is rather about the isolation of the American wife and her predicament in making communication with others. She is absolutely a lonely figure. Though physically she is very close to her husband, she is emotionally far away from him. She does not have any meaningful relationship with anybody:

When the story opens, we learn that George and his wife are the “only two Americans stopping at the hotel” As they are Americans, they are unknown in Italy. What is emphasised at the beginning of the story is the isolation of the couple. The description in the first couple of sentences suggests the characters’ isolation because of their lack of communication with others. But in the wife’s case the sense of isolation is even more intensified as we later see that her husband is emotionally distant from her.

Further the rough weather has added to the sense of isolation and confinement of the couple. They have been compelled to stay in the hotel room due to rain storm. They cannot communicate with the outside world. First they are expatriates travelling in Italy, an alien land. Second, the couple knows only each other and no one else. Third, the rainy weather has compelled them to stay in the hotel room. The only person to whom the wife has got to make any successful communication, is her husband. But as we go through the story we learn that the husband is quite indifferent to his wife’s needs and wishes. This fact intensifies the sense of isolation of the wife.

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Hemingway has presented an unhappy couple. Here George the husband is totally indifferent and uncaring to his wife. All the time he is engaged in silent reading, while his wife “stood at the window looking out.” She sees a cat in the rain and desires to save it from being drenched. She expresses her desire to George and he instantly promises to get it for her, “I’ll get it”. But George does not really mean it. He keeps on reading the book. He does not show slightest signs of going out and get the cat. The husband, though physically present, is emotionally distant, and is completely insensitive to the wife’s wishes and desires.

The story ‘Cat in the Rain’ presents an American couple, emotionally barren and isolated by their own self-absorption.

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