Hidden Meanings In literature, several times a reader has to read a story more than once to interpret and find certain meanings within the story. It is very easy for a reader to over look certain aspects or details of a story; that once known, will make the story easier to interpret. Allegories and Symbolism are two aspects of literature that can make a reader feel very frustrated when he or she is trying to understand the meaning of that certain story. Cat In The Rain by Ernest Hemingway, is one such story that a reader has to re read the story several times in order to fully understand the meanings or the theme of that story.
An allegory by text book definition is a work in which concrete elements stand for abstractions usually in an unambiguous, one-to-one relationship. In other words an allegory is when a character or other types of things, not necessarily a person, help to convey another meaning than what a person might originally think they stand for.
In Ernest Hemingway's short story Cat In The Rain, there are several allegories hidden in the story that once understood help to interpret the theme of the story. The story is about a husband and wife staying in an Italian hotel for the time being and how the wife seems to be unwanted and unappreciated by her husband. She sees a cat outside in the rain and wants to rescue it and keep it. As she tries to retrieve the cat she encounters the hotel-keeper and the maid. She comes back to the hotel room empty handed but the hotel-keeper, who is always looking out for the woman makes sure that she gets what she wants. In the story the cat can stand for how the woman wants to try to get away from her husband, who obviously doesn't have a thoughtful care about his wife. The hotel keeper in the story can also stand for someone who the woman can look forward to being around. In this case the hotel-keeper stands for happiness for the woman. It seems that whenever the woman encounters the hotel-keeper all her problems of complaining how she wants everything vanish. "I want to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring, and I want to brush my hair..., I want a kitty and I want some new clothes" (75) Whenever her problems worsen the hotel-keeper is always there (not physically but sends the maid for help). "...an umbrella opened behind her. It was the maid... Of course the hotel-keeper had sent her" (74). The hotel-keeper also comes to her rescue at the end of the story. "the padrone asked me to bring this for the Signora" (76), referring to the cat. It can be understood that the hotel-keeper is a sign of relief from her unsatisfying life.
Besides allegories in this story there are also several examples of symbolism. Symbolism is when certain characters and/or certain things in a story stand for more than themselves, or hint at larger meanings. Right from the first paragraph symbolism takes its course. It mentions rain in the end of the first paragraph more than enough times. "It was made of bronze and glistened in the rain. It was raining. The rain dripped from the palm trees" (74). The rain helps to portray a kind of dark and gloomy mood. When the woman first opened the door she says she sees "a man... was crossing the empty square to the cafe" (74), when she mentions the empty square she again helps to see mood as gloomy. Another part of the story where symbolism can be found is when the woman is telling her husband that she wants to grow her hair out. This desire that she has to grow her hair long can symbolize how she wants to be free from her marriage. But her husband just tells her not to because he likes the way it is. Again he is holding her back from being and doing what she wants. "I get so tired of it", and he replies "You look pretty darn nice.. ..oh shut up and get something to read" (75).
The reader can tell that the woman wants to live more of a life, but because of her husband it cant happen.
It might be the smartest idea to read a story a second time to further analyze the theme of it. Cat In The Rain by Ernest Hemingway is a story that needs to be focused on several times to find such allegories and examples of symbolism such as the examples mentioned earlier.