The narrator is another of Poe’s unnamed and unreliable men driven to madness. All we really know about him—if his word can be trusted, that is—is that he has enjoyed a lifetime love of animals and that the animals have reciprocated this love. The narrator does make clear what it is about animals that inspires in him a higher level of love and respect: he particularly admires their loyalty and perception. In other words, if an animal remains loyal to you, you must be a good person—which should bring into question the character of any person whose pet begins to exhibit disloyal behavior.
The Narrator's Wife
Not much information is provided about the narrator’s wife other than that she shares his love of animals. We do learn that she might be more superstitious than he is since she is fond of mentioning the belief that cats and witches are inextricably linked. Of course, this information arrives courtesy of a narrator that is not entirely trustworthy, and even he is careful to assert that just because she mentions this superstition, doesn’t necessarily mean she believes it. Ultimately, it is the narrator that seems to possess a deeper belief in supernatural explanations. One thing is for certain: the wife is willing to intrude on behalf of animals when in danger, even if that danger is her husband.
Pluto is the black cat that joins the goldfish, rabbit, dog, birds, and monkey in the menagerie of pets that the narrator and his wife invite into their home. The close bond between cat and owner (i.e. the narrator) even manages to initially shield the cat from the abusive effects of the owner—effects that were already affecting the man's relationship with his other pets and his wife. The passage of time and the rise of addiction tolerance eventually takes their toll, however, resulting in Pluto first losing an eye at the narrator’s hand before losing his life at the end of a noose.
The Second Black Cat
Following rather quickly upon the death of Pluto and an unexplained fire that destroys the narrator’s home, a second black cat enters the narrative. This cat remains nameless, like the narrator. It is almost identical to Pluto, right down to having only one eye, but it has one distinguishing difference: a patch of white fur covering almost its entire breast. The lack of an actual name indicates the emotionless connection between it and the narrator that claims to be such an animal lover: despite a seemingly strong desire by the cat for them to become best friends, the narrator is utterly repulsed by the cat, to the eventual point of attempted murder.
The police arrive to investigate the disappearance of the narrator's wife. They catalyze the mad narrator's hubris, which leads him to inadvertently give away the murder he has continued.
The Black Cat Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Black Cat is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.