The sample of emotive prose which has been chosen for stylistic analysis is a short story “Cat in the rain” by Ernest Hemingway. It has been chosen because it is suggestive and contains a definite psychological implication. The story is interesting from the point of view of the author’s approach to conveying the main idea to the mind of the reader. It is always implicit and remains unspoken. It is the reader himself who should find it behind the simple, at first sight, description of the events.
Hemingway presents only sequence of outward actions and leaves the reader to imagine more than the words themselves can convey. This is characteristic of Hemingway’s manner of writing he is famous for. The author was born in 1899 in Chicago. His family was rich and well provided. His father’s democratic views influenced Earnest greatly, but ignorance of bourgeouis society lighted up a protest in the writer. The young man early left his family’s home. Working as a reporter in the newspaper he came in touch with cruelty of American life and decided to go in the Army. Since this time his searches began.
He saw lives of different circles, people of different nationalities. The author let us analyze a lot of characters and events. His literature was his own interests in hunting, love, fishing, military services and so on. Hemingway avoided conventional narration in his stories. H tried to make the reader understand his ideas by sketching in vivid scenes his own experience. The story “Cat in the rain” reflects the writer’s approach to life in general. It is about an American couple who are spending their vacations in Italy. The writer leaves the surface comparatively bare: the meaning is plain and simple.
A close study of the story for the purpose of examining its style involves a careful observation and a detailed description of the language phenomena at various levels. The text of the story is not homogeneous: it is interrupted with the elements of description and the characters’ dialogues. The writer’s strong sense of place is revealed by the use of foreignisms: “Si, si, signora, brutto tempo” and so on. The very structure of the story adds to the effect of implication but the actual meaning of what is going on is not clear at the beginning of the story, as the feelings suggested by the writer are not precisely determined.
The plot of the story is meant to begin before the narration itself starts. There isn’t any preface to the story, the reader knows nothing about the couple’s past. Hemingway shows his characters in a certain period of their lives – his favorite device. The story begins with the description of the hotel where they stayed. At first sight everything seems to be ideal: a cosy room on the second floor, lovely view from the window. And only the description of the rain evokes the mood of sadness in the reader.
To bring home to the reader this air of melancholy which is felt when it is raining, the author uses such stylistic device as parallel constructions: “The rain dripped from the palm trees. The water stood in pools on the gravel paths. The sea broke in a long line in the rain and slipped back down the beach to come up and break again in a long line in the rain “. One can notice that nouns rain, pools, sea belong to one semantic sphere – the water. This stylistic device is employed by the author to create the atmosphere of inevitability.
One can not hide from the rain. Water is everywhere: it is on the ground, it is pouring from the heavens as though the nature weeps for something. All this pricks the reader’s ears and makes him think that something will happen with this american couple. In this abstract the author also resorts to the help of stylistic device known as alliteration, namely the repetition of the sounds -r-and -l-: “Rain dripped from the palm trees, the sea broke in a long line in the rain” which brings the necessary measured rhythm into the utterance.
Skillfully combining these three stylistic devices the writer obtains the needed effect: within three sentences he gives an exhaustive picture of one of the melancholic rainy evenings when time goes by so slowly. It is also the syntax that serves for this purpose. The author resorts to parallel constructions consisting of short simple sentences to create a downcast atmosphere of dull, monotonous evening and at the same time presentiment and alarming anticipation of something that is likely to happen in the nearest time.
In such deadly boring evening the american girl saw a cat in the rain. The cat sat under the table and tried to make herself so compact that she wouldn’t be dripped on”. Suddenly the girl felt strong inexplicable desire to get this cat. May be she just pitied it. It must have been a miserable spectacle: wet, homeless cat crouching under the table in the empty square. The girl decided to go down and get this cat. Here the reader gets acquainted with her husband. He is lying on the bed and reading and he has no desire to go out in such a weather for the cat his wife wants so much. Although he proposed it but sooner out of politeness and e did not insist. “Dont get wet”- he said, but it wasn’t a care – he said it just to say something.
Later the reader can see that the hotel-keeper gives the girl more attention than her own husband. That’s why she liked the owner of the hotel so much. Emphasizing the girl’s attitude to the hotel-keeper the author resorts to repetition: “She liked the deadly serious way he received any complains. She liked his dignity. She liked the way he wanted to serve her. She liked the way he felt about being a hotel-keeper. She liked his old, heavy face and big hands “.
Unconsciously comparing him with her indifferent husband she liked him because he displayed a kind of attention to her. He always bowed seeing her. His attention can be explained by the fact that he was the owner of the hotel and it was his due to take care of his clients, especially if they were foreigners. He just wanted them to feel comfortable and convenient. He displayed paternal care and attention to her. May be the girl was disposed to the hotel-keeper because he reminded her of her own father who was always kind to her. Anyway, it was so pleasant for the girl to feel sympathy and care.
The author says: ” The padrone made her feel very small and at the same time really important. She had a momentary feeling of being of supreme importance”. That is the reason she liked him. He made her feel important. He listened to her every word and request, and she knew that her every little whim will be fulfiled, and that can not be said about her husband who never worried about her feelings. Quite the opposite picture the reader can see when the girl went upstairs in her room. The only reaction of her husband was the question if she got the cat.
He did not notice her disappointment. Suddenly the girl felt unhappy. Through her sad monologue the writer shows all her dissatisfaction with the life, beginning with the absence of the cat and ending with her short clipped hair. “I get so tired of it“- she says about her hair, but it is not just looking like a boy that she is tired of. She is tired of a boring life, of her indifferent and selfish husband who remains deaf to her despair. She does not say directly that she is not satisfied with her family life. But the reader can see it in the context.
She says: “I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I feel. I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her”. She wants to have long hair to look solid and respectable. She wants to have children and her own house which she associates with silver and candles. And the cat in her dreams is a symbol of refuge, something that she corresponds with such notions as home and cosiness. The author underlines the idea of dissatisfaction using repetition. In importunate repetition of the construction “I want” the reader can see the girl’s emotional state.
This stylistic device discloses her excitement, she is on the verge of hysterics. The emotional tension increases. “And 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 up my hair out in front of the mirror and I want the kitty and I want some new clothes “. Here is an example of polysyndeton. The abundant use of the conjunction and makes the members of enumeration more conspicuous and also serves to emphasize the girl’s state of confusion. The syntax also contributes to the effect of extreme agitation of the girl.
The writer deliberately avoids the use of commas in the girl’s speech to show uninterrupted, without any pauses flow of speech which testifies to her emotional excitement. This abstract may be regarded as the climax of the story. Here the emotional tension reaches its highest degree. The girl throws out all her discontent, all her negative emotions which she accumulated during her joint life with her husband. Then the peak of the climax comes: “Oh, shut up and get something to read” says her husband. Estrangement grows between two people. The girl feels insulted and stays looking out of the window. It is still raining.
The rain is present during the whole narration. It is the silent witness of the running high drama. The rain pierces the plot of the story and has a symbolic meaning. It symbolizes their unfortunate family life. The girl stubbornly continues: “Anyway I want a cat – she says. -I want a cat. I want a cat now . If I can’t have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat”. Suddenly she realizes that her marital life was not successful and the cat for her is the only possibility to feel satisfaction. But her husband does not care about it. He even does not listen to her. Probably he never mused over their joint life.
To the end of the story the author gratifies the girl’s wish and she gets the cat. But it is not that very cat from the street. It is a fat replete Tom-cat sent by the hotel-keeper. Then the writer impartually leaves the reader to guess further development of the events. But it is this very device that makes the reader realize that the girl won’t be satisfied, that she never be happy with her husband. And this big tortoise-shell cat does not symbolize home and cosiness, it won’t bring her happiness, sooner it symbolizes missed opportunity The main stylistic device the story is built upon is suspence.
The author deliberately postpones the denoument keeping the reader in pressing anticipation. Hemingway’s wonderful mastery of the language permits him to keep the reader tense till the denoument. Although everything seems to lie on the surface, but indeed the reader should make a great effort to derive the unspoken reference from the description of the facts. Hemingway’s scrupulous attention to details permits him to introduce the hidden idea between the lines, without saying it directly. Hemingway’s talent lies in deep psychological insight into human nature.