In Our Time

In Our Time Summary and Analysis of Chapter X


It is another bullfight. The narrator describes a horse being repeatedly slashed; a picador rides him as the horse's entrails hang out and blood pumps from between his legs. The horse is very wobbly, yet when the picador shakes his lance at the bull, the bull does not charge.

"Cat in the Rain"

The story begins with an American couple in a hotel. Their room faces the sea and a war monument. In good weather an artist paints in the public garden. The war monument attracts many Italians. It is raining.

The wife stands at the window and looks out. She sees a cat in the rain and decides to go out and retrieve it. The husband briefly offers to do it for her, but she refuses. On her way out she passes the office of the hotel owner. He stands as she passes, and she greets him. She likes the hotel owner, his serious manner, his dignity--and especially the fact that he wants to serve her. She also likes his old face and big hands.

She goes outside and continues thinking that she likes him. As she stands in the doorway, a maid comes up from behind and holds an umbrella over her. She assumes the hotel owner has sent it. The two go into the rain for the cat but cannot find it. The maid laughs when she hears what the American woman is seeking.

On her way back past the office, she thinks that the hotel owner makes her feel very small and tight inside. The padrone also makes her feel very important, and she has a momentary feeling of "supreme importance."

Back in her room, she tells her husband how much she wants a kitten. She goes to the mirror and ponders growing her hair out. Her husband likes her current haircut. She continues to talk about the kitty that will sit in her lap and purr when she strokes it. She next tells her husband that she wants to eat at a table with her own silver and candles. She also wants spring to arrive and to have some new clothes. Her husband, clearly annoyed, tells her to shut up.

By this time darkness has arrived. She looks out the window in silence and then repeats her wish for a cat. Someone knocks on the door. The maid brings in the cat that was outside in the rain. She says the padrone has asked her to bring it.


The vignette, again with a focus on bullfighting, describes vividly the violence against a horse, describing the entrails of the horse hanging out. The description of blood pumping from between the horse's legs suggests the horse's slowly ebbing life. The bull waits to charge, and the scene almost seems frozen in time. The presence of death dominates here, and killing the horse for the purpose of sport signifies a cruelty much like the killing of the baggage animals in "On the Quai at Smyrna." The deaths of the soldiers in the earlier vignettes have been replaced by the deaths of players in a deadly game.

"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. The hotel owner constantly keeps taking care of her instead. He sends the maid to her with an umbrella, she thinks, so that she does not get wet in the rain, and then at the end of the story he sends the missing cat up to her room. He represents a kindness and understanding that the husband does not possess or simply does not wish to exhibit. The husband certainly seems bored and annoyed by his wife. When she talks about all the objects she desires, he tells her to shut up. The problems in their relationship seem to feed one another.

For all the suggested unhappiness, Hemingway never directly discusses it. Instead we see and analyze it for ourselves. The spare details suggest the problem of communicating such complex issues, and the lack of direct reflection on the issue mirrors the fact that the husband and wife barely communicate together. They have lost their reverence for each other.