Ernest Hemingway’s short story "The Cat in the Rain" is, on the surface, a simple tale of an American couple in Italy. However, the reader soon realizes that this uncomplicated tale illuminates much deeper meanings. Of significant important is the author’s attitude toward the main characters. Hemingway’s attitude toward the wife, the Innkeeper, and the husband influences the reader’s perception of these characters.

The wife is the central character in the story and the reader feels a great deal of sympathy for this woman. Hemingway chooses not to include any negative details about the woman’s personality. In fact, the wife is a relatively flat character. The reader learns that she is unsatisfied with many aspects of her life, and that she enjoys the flattery of the innkeeper. Otherwise, the reader does not discover any other information about the unhappy wife. Hemingway’s lack of details encourages the reader to view the woman as an unfortunate, neglected character.

Hemingway’s portrayal of the innkeeper transforms him from a minor character, to one of great significance. This character provides the one source of encouragement for the lonely wife.