The Black Cat (Poe)

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The Black Cat
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An alcoholic man, tormented by a black cat, commits heinous acts, including the murder of his wife, and ultimately seals his own fate when he inadvertently reveals his crimes to the police.

A man, known for his love of animals, married a woman who shared his passion. They had many pets, including a black cat named Pluto.

The Narrator — narrator; alcoholic, initially kind-hearted but becomes increasingly violent and remorseful.
The Narrator's Wife — kind, animal-loving, and ultimately a victim of her husband's violence.
Pluto — black cat; initially the narrator's favorite pet, later becomes a symbol of his guilt and torment.

Over time, the man's temperament changed due to alcoholism, and he began to mistreat his pets and wife. One night, in a drunken rage, he cut out one of Pluto's eyes.

I took from my waistcoat-pocket a penknife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket!

The next day, he felt remorse but continued to drink heavily. Eventually, he decided to hang the cat from a tree.

That night, their house caught fire, and the man, his wife, and a servant barely escaped. The next day, he discovered the image of a cat with a noose around its neck on a wall that had survived the fire. Haunted by the image, he sought a new cat to replace Pluto. He found a large black cat with a white patch on its chest, which he took home.

The Second Black Cat — black cat with a white mark; resembles Pluto and intensifies the narrator's guilt and fear.

The cat quickly became a favorite of his wife, but the man grew to despise it.

The man discovered that the new cat was also missing an eye, which only increased his hatred for it. The cat followed him everywhere, causing him great distress. One day, while in the cellar with his wife, the cat nearly tripped him, and in a fit of rage, he tried to kill it with an axe. His wife stopped him, but he turned the axe on her, killing her instantly.

To hide his crime, he decided to wall up his wife's body in the cellar. He carefully concealed the body behind bricks and plaster, confident that no one would discover it.

I had walled the monster up within the tomb!

A few days later, the police came to investigate, but found nothing. In a moment of bravado, the man knocked on the wall where his wife's body was hidden, only to hear a horrifying scream from within. The police tore down the wall and found the wife's decaying corpse, with the black cat sitting on her head. The man had unknowingly walled the cat up with his wife's body, and its cries had sealed his fate.