In Our Time

Why is the American wife unhappy in the chapter "Cat in the Rain"?

"Cat in the Rain" american wife is unhappy

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"Cat In the Rain" examines another strained and unhappy marriage. The American couple stays at a hotel that faces a war monument, and once again it rains. The rain suggests dreariness. The wife looks out the window and sees a cat. She decides to get it, but it is unclear whether she feels pity for it or just wants to satisfy her own need for a cat. As she later reveals, she wants a kitty to hold in her lap and purr.

The husband offers to get it, but she declines his offer. That is just as well, since he remains reading on the bed the entire story, apparently detached from his wife. She desperately wants attention, though, and she dreamily wants a lot of things. She likes the old hotel owner very much, too, for the way he treats her. She likes the attention, the way he "wants to serve her." There are many things that she likes, and all these things suggest that something fundamental is missing in her marriage.