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Literature Study GuidesIn Our TimeCat In The Rain Summary

In Our Time | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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In Our Time | Cat in the Rain | Summary



An American couple is staying at a seaside hotel in Italy. During a rainstorm, the wife looks out the window and sees a bedraggled cat. "I'm going down and get that kitty," she says. Once outside, she cannot find the cat. A hotel maid asks her what she needs, and the woman tells her about the cat. The maid helps the woman back to her room to get dry. The woman is disappointed about the cat.

Back in the room, the wife talks about the many things she wants, starting with "the kitty." She would also like long hair, nice springtime weather, and many more items. George interrupts, saying "Oh, and shut up and get something to read." The wife says again and again she would like to have that cat. George does not listen. "If I can't have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat," she concludes. The maid knocks; she has brought a wet cat for "the Signora."


A rainy day at a seaside resort gives tourists a trivial but vexing problem. They are at the seaside to have fun, but the rain prevents it. For the couple in "A Cat in the Rain," things are even worse because they don't enjoy each other's company. It is not clear whether the husband really enjoys reading or uses it as an excuse to disengage from his wife. She prattles, going on and on about what she wants, showing that she may not be easy to get along with.

For the hotel employees, the rain is just another lousy day in paradise with the added vexation of having to deal with an American woman who lacks the sense to come inside, out of the rain.

After her husband rebukes her with the words "shut up," the wife tempers her list of demands. She forgets the other material things and focuses on the cat, almost maniacally: "Anyway, I want a cat. ... I want a cat. I want a cat now." She adds what seems like a fateful clause: if she cannot have anything else she wants, she can at least have a cat. When the maid knocks at that moment, it seems to confirm the wife's words. It appears the wife truly cannot have anything else in life. All she will get is this bedraggled cat.

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