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The Black Cat (Grade 8)

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The Black Cat

The narrator mentions that he murdered the first cat with the bitterest remorse. Yet, when he murders his own wife he feels no remorse whatsoever, but rather a triumph over how cleverly he has concealed his deed. What does this indicate about the narrator's personality and state of mind? Discuss:

As the cat becomes increasingly fond of the narrator, what happens to the narrator's feelings toward the cat? Does this have anything to do with the narrator's previous actions? Discuss:

That night:
  1. the narrator finally feels a sense of permanent peace
  2. the house catches fire
  3. his wife reproaches him for his sick behavior
The narrator:
  1. kills his wife in a temper because she defends the cat
  2. becomes an arsonist, destroying his neighbors' homes
  3. finally decides he must reform his life
Following this incident, neighbors note:
  1. how much the man's wife is suffering
  2. the great improvement in the man
  3. the impression of a cat on the bedroom wall
The narrator seeks another cat, takes it home and finds:
  1. that it seems to love him very much
  2. that it is beginning to take on haunting characteristics of the previous pet
  3. both of these
At the end, the cat:
  1. calls the attention of the police to the narrator's crime
  2. is killed by the narrator
  3. wins the real affection of the man
Probing for Theme:
Read the three thematic statements below. Which one best applies to "The Black Cat"?
  1. Often there is a perverseness in human nature which seems to delight in doing wrong, for no other reason than because it is wrong.
  2. Cruelty to nature will be avenged.
  3. Forces of evil are often unleashed by degeneracy.
Do you agree with the narrator when he says that an inclination toward evil is a basic part of every human personality? Have you ever done something wrong just because you knew you shouldn't? Discuss:

The narrator also states that he is not mad. Is this true? Do you consider his actions and reactions to be those of a sane person? Discuss:

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