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Sigit Nugroho

A 2015
Literary Appreciation and Criticism
Comparative Essay of “Cat in the Rain” by Ernest Hemmingway and “Eveline” by
James Joyce
1. Comparative Table
Intrinsic Cat in the Rain Eveline
Points
Characters American Wife, George (American Eveline Hill, Ernest Hill, Harry,
Wife’s husband), The Hotel Keeper Eveline’s Father, Eveline’s Mother,
(Padrone), The Maid, The Cat. Frank, Ms. Gavan (Eveline’s superior
in store), Priest (Eveline’s father’s
friend), Eveline’s childhood friends.
Setting Place : A certain sea-side hotel in Place : Eveline’s room, Eveline’s
Italy, the hotel room, monument home, Avenue, Dublin town in
square. Ireland, a store where Eveline
becomes clerk, a house where Eveline
Time : Post-war era, late becomes caretaker, Buenos Ayres
afternoon/evening. (Argentina), Canada, Hill of Howth,
Port in North Wall.
Situation : Boring (because of the
rain), desperate/tense. Time : Early 1900s, evening, Saturday
night.

Situation : Gloomy, tense.
Plot Progressive plot (it includes Back-and-Forth (mixed) plot
opening, conflict, climax and (includes opening, conflict, climax
conclusion sequences). and conclusion sequences with past
reminiscent).
Stylistic Narrative past tense, with narration Narrative past tense, with narration of
(Writing of all-knowing (omniscience) point all-knowing (omniscience) point of
Styles) of view. view.
Symbolism The cat under the table in the rain, Window, Eveline’s dusty room,
the cat on lap, silver table and playground field, the sea, the railing.
utensils, long hair, candle.
Main Idea The American Wife wants her Eveline wants to escape her life which
husband to give her some things is full of dilemma and boredom. She
like romantic attitude, luxury and then plans to leave her hometown,
most of all, a child. However, she Dublin, with Frank, her lover, to go to
seems annoyed because her Argentina but in the end she could not
husband does not show much care do so because she cannot go out from
about anything she says, which she her comfort zone, her daily life and
cannot do anything about it as well. hometown because her memories and
fear to go to unknown place.
2. Comparative Essay
The short stories “Cat in the Rain” by Ernest Hemingway and “Eveline” by James Joyce
are exquisite examples of literature created in the early 1900, also known as the works of “Lost
Generations”. Some unique aspects like character, setting, plot, writing style, symbolism and
main idea can be extracted from both stories, and this essay will try to uncover and explain
those aspects in comparative manner to know how the writers’ writing style and what trivial
information inserted in the stories.
a. Character
The first part to be explained is character in both stories. In overall analysis, the number of
characters in “Cat in the Rain” is lesser than “Eveline”, but this compensates by the frequent
appearance of the characters in the first story, while in the latter, most of the characters are only
mentioned by name only in narrative.
Now, we move to the protagonist of those stories. In “Cat in the Rain”, the protagonist is
an unnamed American woman, only referenced as American Wife. In “Eveline”, as the title
suggests, the protagonist is a young woman named Eveline.
The American wife stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat
was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so
compact that she would not be dripped on.

But in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that. Then she would
be married—she, Eveline. People would treat her with respect then.

Both of the protagonists are dealing with a great dilemma. In “Cat in the Rain”, the
American Wife desires many things she wanted in her current life, but her husband does not
seem caring at all, and she cannot do anything about it. In “Eveline”, Eveline is in dilemma
whether she could escape from her current condition or staying still. Both of them share a
similiar thing, which is a condition of helplessness.
‘Anyway, I want a cat,’ she said, ‘I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can’t have long hair or
any fun, I can have a cat.’ George was not listening. He was reading his book. His wife looked
out of the window where the light had come on in the square.

She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her.
He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy?
She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would
save her.

However, the difference can be seen from the action. The American Wife is quite brave
to do anything with her own, even selflessly trying to go down to save the ‘cat’. Yet, despite
her effort, she cannot truly do anything to satisfy her desires without her uncaring husband’s
consent. As for Eveline, she has no courage to go out from her pitiful situation even she has
chance to do so.

‘I get so tired of it,’ she said. ‘I get so tired of looking like a boy.’
George shifted his position in the bed. He hadn’t looked away from her since she started to
speak.
‘You look pretty darn nice,’ he said.

She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she
prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful
whistle into the mist.

As for other supporting characters, there is not much to be explained. Correlated with what
have been mentioned earlier, despite the lesser number of characters, “Cat in the Rain”
characters appear frequently in the story while most characters in “Eveline” only mentioned by
name in story as the story focuses only on Eveline’s dilemma and mind.

b. Settings

The second part to be explained is the settings, consists of setting of place, time and
situation. Overall, both stories contain the settings. It should be noted, however, that in “Cat in
the Rain”, the setting of place is lesser than in “Eveline”. The settings of place in “Eveline”
mostly only mentioned in narrative without Eveline actually goes there, while in “Cat in the
Rain”, the American Wife actively moves to the places in the story (still in the range of hotel,
however.).

There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel. They did not know any of the people they
passed on the stairs on their way to and from their room. Their room was on the second floor
facing the sea. It also faced the public garden and the war monument. There were big palms
and green benches in the public garden.

Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his way home; she heard his
footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path
before the new red houses. One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play
every evening with other people's children.

For the setting of time, it can be seen from both stories that the time is apparently in night
time, or perhaps in late afternoon and changing to evening for “Cat in the Rain”.

She laid the mirror down on the dresser and went over to the window and looked out. It was
getting dark.

She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against
the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.

For the setting of situation, both of stories put similiar situations such as desperate/tense
and gloomy. However, as far as we can see, the tension between the stories are quite different.
In “Cat in the Rain”, the tension is created by the quarrel between American Wife and her
husband, George, about her sudden tantrum, while in “Eveline”, the tension appears because
Eveline’s own fear and paralysis.

‘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 my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new
clothes.’
‘Oh, shut up and get something to read,’ George said. He was reading again.

She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her.
He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy?
She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would
save her.

c. Plot

The third part is the plot, which mentions the content of story’s flow and sequences. Both
stories have past tense narrative but different plot sequence. The story “Cat in the Rain” is
described in past tense and progressive plot. For the plot, this story has opening, conflict,
climax, and conclusion sequences in advancing pattern with no past event description, while
for the story “Eveline”, while progressing the event, some past event description is narrated,
so it is using back-and-forth (mixed) plot.

The American wife stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat
was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so
compact that she would not be dripped on.
‘I’m going down and get that kitty,’ the American wife said.
‘I’ll do it,’ her husband offered from the bed.

Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his way home; she heard his
footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path
before the new red houses. One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play
every evening with other people's children. Then a man from Belfast bought the field and built
houses in it—not like their little brown houses but bright brick houses with shining roofs. The
children of the avenue used to play together in that field—the Devines, the Waters, the Dunns,
little Keogh the cripple, she and her brothers and sisters.

d. Stylistic (Writing Style)

Both of the stories have certain style in the writing. Ernest Hemingway has more
straightforward narration, while James Joyce can elaborate dramatic words into the narration.

The American wife stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat
was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so
compact that she would not be dripped on.

Home! She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once
a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came from. Perhaps she would
never see again those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided.

In the narrative, narrator’s point of view is also important in the writing style. For the
narrator of “Cat in the Rain” story, since the narrator explains clearly the whole condition and
situation both in the characters’ mind (even when the characters are not aware about what they
feel) and outside situation sense, the narrator is defined as all knowing narrator (omniscience).
Furthermore, the writer puts emphasizes on usage of third person narrative. Similiar things are
also happened to the narrator of “Eveline”, where the narrator is also an all knowing narrator
(omniscience) and using third person narrative.

“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. The motor cars were gone from the square by the war
monument. Across the square in the doorway of the café a waiter stood looking out at the empty
square.”

“Something felt very small and tight inside the girl. The padrone made her feel very small and
at the same time really important. She had a momentary feeling of being of supreme
importance.”

All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would
drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.
“Come!”
No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent
a cry of anguish.

e. Symbolism

Some symbolism aspects can be seen from both stories, which some symbols actually hide
various intrinsic meaning. For “Cat in the Rain”, the symbols are the cat under the table in the
rain, the cat the American Wife wants on her lap, silver table and utensils, long hair and candle,
while for “Eveline”, the symbols are window, Eveline’s dusty room, the playground field, the
sea and the railings.
First, in the story “Cat in the Rain”, the cat under the table in the rain represents American
Wife’s condition, who is trapped in their hotel room because it is raining. She feels helpless
because of that.

The American wife stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat
was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so
compact that she would not be dripped on.

Next, the cat the American Wife wants on her lap just like when she said that to her husband
in her tantrum represents a desire to take care of a child. They are married but not yet have a
baby. Then, the silver table and utensils she mentioned represents a need for luxury or literally
exquisite dinner, with addition of a candle, which represents romanticism. Other than that, her
desire to have long hair may represents her desire to be more beautiful. However, she feels
helpless to have her desire to be fulfilled because her husband, George, is not caring at all to
what she says and keep being passive.

‘I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I can feel,’
she said. ‘I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her.’
‘Yeah?’ George said from the bed.
‘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 my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new
clothes.’
Second, in the story “Eveline”, the window represents how Eveline’s mind views of the
world, as she remembers her past and experiences. In the story, she is reminiscing in her dusty
room, which is also another symbol represents her nostalgia about her home. Then, she
remembers a playground field she played at when she was young. That playground field is also
a symbol of nostalgia of her childhood memories, which long gone.

She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against
the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.

One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other
people's children.

Then, as the story progresses, when Eveline is at Port, she is paralyzed by her fear to go
outside of her hometown. She sees the sea as a symbol of an unknown place, so that it makes
her afraid. She then grips the railing of the port, not wanting to go as gripping the railing
represents her desperate action to keep in her comfort zone, in her hometown rather than going
to unknown place.

All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would
drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.
“Come!”
No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent
a cry of anguish.

Both of the stories’ symbolisms shows the dilemma of both protagonists. However, we can
find the differences from how the symbols are delivered in the story. In “Cat in the Rain”, most
of the symbols are known by the dialogue of the character, while in “Eveline”, most of the
symbols are known by the description of the narrator.

f. Main Idea

The extracts of both stories will be explained here. So far, for the story “Cat in the Rain”,
the American Wife wants her husband, George, to give her some things like romantic attitude,
luxury and most of all, a child. However, she seems to be annoyed because her husband does
not show much care about anything she says, which she cannot do anything about it as well.
For “Eveline”, it is known that the protagonist, Eveline, wants to escape her life which is
full of dilemma and boredom. She then plans to leave her hometown, Dublin, with Frank, her
lover, to go to Argentina but in the end she could not do so because she cannot go out from her
comfort zone, her daily life and hometown because her memories and fear of going to unknown
place.
Both of them have interesting dilemmas which the protagonists experience, but the
difference of the dilemmas is about how the protagonists face the dilemma. In “Cat in the Rain”,
the American Wife becomes so annoyed and stating her desires in her quarrel with her husband
(even not explicitly), but in the “Eveline” story, Eveline does not talk to anyone about her
feeling at all and keep the dilemma for herself and finally deciding not to walk through her
plan and stay in her hometown.

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