A cat in the rain is a short story written by Ernest Hemmingway, and a perfect day for Banana fish is a short story written by J.D.Salinger. Both the stories revolve around the theme marriage and the relationship between husband and wife. Even though, marriage is the union of two souls tied together with a thread of love, compassion and respect for each other and take vows of taking care for each other for the rest of their lives. But after a few years of wedding, couples became aloof and estranged to the needs and desires of their partners and the bond of love becomes a bondage or burden for them. In the story, authors with an unusual ending have tried to throw some light on the most intimate relationship of marriage that is torn apart and, even though, the couples are physically present with each other but emotionally are miles away.
A cat in the rain is a story of an American couple on vacation in Italy. The Couple is in the room, and husband is engrossed reading a book whereas his wife is sitting idle near the window. It shows aloofness of the husband and lack of care towards her wife. She notices a cat drenched in the rain and trying to cover herself under the green bench from the rain. The lady could not see the misery of the cat and goes to fetch her. Downstairs she meets the lobby operator who she secretly adores because he is always at her service and takes care of her needs; she is attracted to his old face and big hands. But when the lady goes out in the rain to find the cat she does not find her anywhere and comes to the room disappointed.
She looks at herself in the mirror and talks to her husband that she wants to grow her hairs long, look like a lady with a bun and want a cat that lies at her laps and purrs. She tries to strike out conversation to which her husband gets irritated and tells her to grab a book to read. The door knocks, and there comes the caretaker with the same cat and tells that lobby operator send it for the lady. The cat signifies the American wife because just as the cat is alone, desolated in the world the American wife also feels lonely and despair even though her husband is physically present. Lack of love, care and bond between the couple leads her feeling isolated. The burden of failed marriage is so much in her heart that she is trying to find a ray of happiness outside her marriage such as in a cat.
A perfect day for Banana fish is also a short story about a married couple but their situation is much more complex. Seymour has returned from the war and is finding difficulty in adjusting in the civil society. Muriel his wife is carefree woman much involved in the fashion, new trends and other people’s life. She feels that her husband is completely healthy, but Muriel’s parents are suspicious about Seymour’s mental condition. But Muriel is relaxed and enjoying her vacation drinking, getting sunburned and is quite confident that her husband will not do anything reckless. There is uncanny silence between the couple and even though they are in the same room, but they sleep on different beds. When Muriel is in the room, her husband is out on the beach all by himself. Seymour meets a little girl named Sybil on the beach and compliments her beautiful blue swimsuit which is yellow instead. Seymour and Sybil strike a conversation, and Seymour is enjoying talking to a little kid. It seems like for some time his lost childhood and innocence has come back, and he wants to live the moment. They talk about the banana fishes, how the fishes go inside the banana to eat it from inside and when they are full and fat it becomes impossible for the fishes to move, and they die in the banana only. After returning from the beach Seymour comes to the room looks at his wife and with his gun kills himself.
The sad ending of both the story signifies the suffocation in the marriage and unwillingness on the part of their partners to understand their needs. In both the stories the main character is tired of living in a failed marriage and resorts to his or her own way of finding freedom and happiness. To be a part of so called civilized society and bearing the burden of failed marriage for the sake of societal norms is making them suffocated and when Seymour could not take it anymore he decided to seek freedom by ending his life. He feels like he is a banana fish trapped in the banana and is choked with the burden of hypocrisy, lack of communication in his relationship that has become a bondage.
The American wife and Seymour want to feel true happiness and love of their partners but are well aware of their partner’s aloofness. The American wife seeks happiness by caring for the kitty but her husband is insensitive and blind to her needs. Whereas Seymour in his quest for love and innocence ends his life as he is aware of the futility of his marriage and can no longer bear the hypocrisy and self centeredness of the materialistic world. Even though he dies it will not have effect on the world as people will brood for some time and then get involved in their lives. Muriel also will move on as it is clearly seen that she is not emotionally attached to her husband. A day for banana fishes has a better ending, as it projects the relationship of two people who are entirely opposite to each other are married and ultimately that marriage becomes a burden which is unbearable for Seymour.