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Albert Song Exposition & Argument Marangoni 9/25/2013 Proto-Feminism in Cat in the Rain Feminist ideals existed long

before the feminist movement emerged. Many activists in the early 1900s championed womens suffrage and other rights. These women are considered proto-feminists for their radical support of womens rights and the foundation that they laid for later feminists to build upon. Many artists and authors picked up on these brave women and began to narrate their own versions of proto-feminism. Ernest Hemingways short story Cat in the Rain conveys the American wife as a proto-feminist through her thoughts, actions and conversation. The American wifes thoughts throughout the story depict her desire for respect and independence. In the beginning of Cat in the Rain, the hotel-keeper is wifes center of attention as she walks down to retrieve the cat. She mentions numerous times that she likes the different aspects about him such as the deadly serious way he received any complaints (40-41). However, the real aspects that ties to her desires are when she says that she liked the way he wanted to serve her (42). It is apparent that the American wife yearns for a level of respect that only men seem to be able to achieve. Similarly, she talks about how his demeanor and attitude makes her feel important (73-74). In addition, this also ties to the desire for respect that the American wife hopes to earn. Her independence plays an important role as the story continues. When she thinks about how much she likes how the hotel-keeper treats her, she also has a desire for independence. This is not to be confused with physical separation from her husband. Rather,

this is a visual and reputational independence. The wife no longer wants to be viewed solely as the American couple that is currently all anybody sees. The desire for both these come directly from her thoughts and show her true nature and perspective. The American wife reinforces her desires through her conversations with her husband. The wife sacrifices her physical looks and to an extent, part of her reputation to change her appearance to win small favor of equality. The wife mentions that she has grown tired of looking like a boy (96-97). In addition, she includes more things that she wants such as candles, silverware, clothes and a kitty (108-110). These are commonly associated with feminine stereotypes. It mistakenly appears that the American wife is no longer a symbol of feminism and has fallen to the norms of society of her time period. However, these relate back to her desire for respect and independence. Through her conversations, she expresses how she wishes that she does not want to make sacrifices in order to gain respect that she already deserves. This conversation that she has with her husband portrays a misconception of a proto-feminist. On a shallow level, the wife wants to have the stereotypical feminine life. Past this, she realizes that she does not need to sacrifice her wants for her goals. This reiterates her previous desires of respect and independence. The wife wants the respect of being an individual without any sacrifices. The actions of the American girl portray her attitude and willingness to establish herself as a dominant character in Cat in the Rain. Primarily, when she states that she is going down and [getting] that kitty (25) she does not hesitate and does not accept the help from her husband (27-28). She is capable of doing things herself and does not need to rely on anybody for this matter. This demeanor and attitude are highly reflective of her character. By her actions, she asserts herself as a strong character in Hemingways short story. Instead of the story revolving

around how her husband went to retrieve the cat in the harsh weather, it centers on the American wife. Her independence is widely displayed as she goes down to retrieve the cat. In addition, had the wife not made the journey to retrieve the cat, she would not have encountered the hotelkeeper. This would have not been able to supplement her desire for independence and respect. While there are not many actions that take place in Cat in the Rain, these actions far outweigh the thoughts and conversations. Rather than just thinking or talking about what she wants to do or how she feels, the American wife demonstrates the ability to achieve her goals through her own means. The American wife is an example of a proto-feminist as displayed throughout Hemingways short story Cat in the Rain. She commonly portrays values of independence which strengthens her as a dominant character. The wifes conversations depict her sacrifices and her realization that she does not need to give anything up to maintain her proto-feminism. Furthermore, her actions demonstrate her willingness and attitude towards her goals. Her thoughts, actions and conversations all play huge roles in her character. Each piece is critical to define the American wife as a proto-feminist. Without each piece, the American wifes role as a proto-feminist is not nearly as strong and developed. In addition, the dichotomy between her conversations and her actions and thoughts emphasize the American wife as a proto-feminist. She proves that she is not limited to any social restrictions because of her sex. The American wife is a trademark for a proto-feminist because of Earnest Hemingways development throughout such a short story.

Works Cited Hemingway, Ernest. "Cat in the Rain." In Our Time. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1925. Print.