Only two Americans are within the hotel. Their room faces the ocean, a public garden, and a war monument. Many Italians come from distant to ascertain the monument. That day, it’s raining, and therefore the American wife is searching the window. She sees a cat under a table that’s trying to stay dry. She tells her husband that she goes to urge it. He tells her to not get wet. Downstairs, she is greeted by the hotel operator, whose seriousness and willingness to please she adores. When she goes outside, he sends a maid after her with an umbrella. She doesn’t find the cat.
She goes back upstairs feeling sad. She asks her husband if she should grow her hair out. He says that he likes it the way that it’s. She decides that she wants a bun at the rear of her neck, and a cat to stroke, and a table together with her silver, and a few new clothes. He tells her to shut up and to seek out a book to read. She says that she still wants a cat. Just then, someone knocks at the door. it’s the maid. She has mentioned a cat, at the request of the hotel operator.
The American wife expresses a desire for several things during this story. She tells her husband that if she cannot have any fun, then she might also have things that she wants. In other words, this desire for material goods comes from an inability to accumulate intangible goods like fun and affection. This lack of intimacy isn’t entirely her husband’s fault, of course. She also ignores his compliments.
This American way, desiring material objects and becoming bored, is contrasted with an Italian way of vacationing. The Italians arrive within the same location to ascertain the war memorial and honor the war dead. they’re more involved within the ideas of the place than in owning things from it. additionally, it’s a more communal way of living, to honor the sacrifices of others, instead of to remain inside and skim.
By telling the reader that the Americans know nobody at the hotel, the narrator highlights their otherness—they are strangers during a strange land. The landscape that the bedroom looks out on is gorgeous. However, the narrator’s comments suggest that on the day the story is about, the weather isn’t very nice, as long as there are not any artists painting within the garden. Furthermore, the presence of the war monument communicates to the reader that there has been a serious conflict during this region.
The war monument calls the reader’s attention to the very fact that the primary war (1914-1918) has recently skilled Europe. By about the Italian sightseers who come to go to the monument, the narrator locates the action of the story in Italy. Furthermore, the interest that the Italians absorb the monument suggests just what a momentous event the war was for them. The image of the monument glistening brightly within the rain further highlights the monument as a crucial aspect of the landscape.
The overcast, rainy weather gives a desolate aspect to the scene. The landscape—except for the lone waiter within the café doorway—is practically deserted. The stillness and bleakness of the scene implicitly recall the destruction and desolation wrought on this landscape by the war, which is referenced through the war monument.
As she looks out on the scene, the wife’s attention is on the cat—not the war monument. this is often significant because it implicitly suggests that the wife isn’t very curious about the war. As an American, she is far away from the conflict, unlike the Italians who have experienced the war firsthand and who come from an extended way off to go to the monument. Instead, it’s a little animal that catches her attention. That the wife sympathizes with the cat in its predicament is additionally significant, because it suggests that she identifies with the animal’s vulnerability and loneliness.
The hotel-keepers courtesy to the wife is emblematic of old-world European hospitality. the stress that the narrator puts on the space between the hotel-keeper, who stands at the far end of his office, and therefore the wife as she passes by, however, suggests that although she likes him, a particular formality and remoteness characterizes the wife’s relationship to the hotel-keeper.
The American wife’s strong feelings of liking for the hotel-keeper are notable because there’s a stark absence within the story of expression of such feelings towards the American wife’s husband, George. The narrator’s comment that the American wife likes the way the hotel-keeper is prepared to serve her implicitly suggests that the American wife lacks such attention and consideration from her husband.
The hotel-keepers consideration and attentiveness are dramatized here through his action of sending out the maid to follow the wife with an umbrella. While earlier within the story, the wife’s husband, George, had simply commanded his wife to not get wet, here the hotel-keeper acts to truly prevent the wife from exposure to the weather. Again, this sets up a contrast between the consideration and attentiveness of the hotel-keeper and George’s inattentiveness.
The wife’s deep disappointment at not finding the cat suggests that she seeks something from the animal. Her disappointment contrasts with the maid’s reaction, who seems to seek out the American wife’s mission trivial and humorous. This perhaps suggests the gulf that exists between the Italian maid’s experience—presumably, like other Italians, she had lived through the deprivations of the primary World War—and the experience of the American hotel guest, whose whimsical wants imply that she has lived a life far removed from true deprivation. Furthermore, the problem in communication here, expressed through the wife’s lapsing into English, further reinforces the thought that a gulf in experience divides the 2 women.
The American wife’s feelings as she passes by the hotel-keeper office highlight the extent to which the cat’s loss has affected her. That she feels small points to her feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness—feelings, perhaps, that she had projected onto the cat. Her contradictory emotion of self-importance points to the confusion and upheaval she experiences as a result of the loss of the cat. It’s also significant that the narrator begins to ask her as a “girl” here. It’s as if, as she grows more insecure and unsure, the narrative perspective on her changes, casting her as an immature, vulnerable youngster.
George’s prostrate position on the bed suggests the contrast between his attitude towards his wife and therefore the hotel-keepers. While the hotel-keeper rises from his seat on each occasion he meets the wife, George remains stretched. His comfort and ease seem to require precedence over his wife’s.
The wife’s preoccupation with wanting and losing the cat affirms the sense that there’s something beyond the cat itself that she desires. That George returns to his reading as she speaks suggests that alienation or distance pervades the connection between husband and wife. George seems inattentive and unresponsive to his wife’s needs.
The wife’s action of examining herself within the mirror suggests that she goes through some process of self-reevaluation, one triggered by the loss of the cat. Her dissatisfaction together with her short hair, and her desire to not appear as if a boy, also implies an ambivalence on her part towards her femininity. She sports a brief hairstyle that, considering the time during which the story is about, was a marker of a progressive and liberated feminine identity. And yet her hankering for long hair suggests that she desires a more conventional and traditional feminine identity. George’s response that he likes her hair the way it’s is additionally telling, therein he seems to cast her appearance in terms of his own needs, instead of hers. What seems to interest him is what he thinks of her hair, not what she thinks.
The long list of desires that the wife shares with George indicates that a deep dissatisfaction pervades her life. Her desire for a cat with which she will have close physical contact specifically implies that she yearns for close and warm connection and get in touch with. Such a connection seems to be lacking in her relationship with George. His abrupt order to her to shut up and obtain something to read points to his callousness, also as his alienation from her needs. The wife’s desires also are implicational a hankering for a more conventional feminine identity. Long hair and silver, also as a requirement to nurture, as expressed through her desire for the cat, are all related to conventional femininity.
The wife’s return to the window, where she takes up an equivalent posture she had held at the start of the story, reinforces her distance from George. Her husband has returned to his reading, and she or he has turned faraway from him towards the window—as though she is checking out possibilities for satisfaction from the surface world. Her repeated demands for a cat indicate that her feelings of dissatisfaction still consume her. George’s obliviousness to his wife’s words as he reads his book underscores his inability to deal with, or maybe recognize, her unhappiness.
The maid’s arrival with a cat—a gift from the hotel-keeper to the wife—ends the story on an ambiguous note. The reader isn’t given the wife’s reaction to the present cat. Furthermore, it’s not certain that this is often an equivalent cat that the wife had spotted earlier from her hotel window, as long as the wife mentioned the cat she had seen as a “kitty,” and therefore the cat that the maid brings up to space is “large.” intrinsically, the reader is left unsure about whether the wife’s desire for a cat has been fulfilled or not. She has gotten a cat, but it’s quite likely that it’s not the cat she had initially sought. The story’s ambiguous ending suggests to the reader the ways during which people’s desires, even once they are satisfied, can often be disappointing.
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