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Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat”

920 words - 4 pages

In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” Afracanist presence as defined by Toni Morrison asserts itself through the narrator while transforming him from a tender kindhearted person into one who allows perverseness to take over. This type of presence allows the reader to witness the dark undertone and the hidden messages that lie within the text. In order to effectively show the narrators transformation and how his actions allow Afracanist presence to be presented, Poe uses two cats, one of which is completely black while the other resembles the first but instead has white fur covering the region of its breast. As the narrator refuses to take responsibility for his actions, Afracanist presence allows the two cats to extract from the narrator’s his true self-image.
The presence of the two cats in the tale allows the narrator to see himself for who he truly is. In the beginning the narrator explains that his “tenderness of heart made him the jest of his companions”. (251) He also speaks of his love for animals that has remained with him from childhood into manhood. However, Poe contradicts this description of the narrator when he seems to become annoyed with the cat that he claims to love so much. While under the influence of alcohol the narrator is “fancied that the cat avoided his presence”(250) and as a result decides to brutally attack the cat. This black cat symbolizes the cruelty received by slaves from whites. The narrator not only “deliberately cuts one of the cats eyes from the sockets” (250) but he also goes on to hang the cat. Once the narrator successfully hangs the cat the tale begins to take a very dark and gothic-like turn. The racism and guilt of the narrator continues to haunt him once he has killed the black cat. The first haunting of the narrator is shown when his house unexpectedly burns with flames. When the narrator returns to witness the remains of the fire “he approached and saw, as if graven in vast relief upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat”. (251) The fact that this black image of a cat with a rope about his neck was placed upon a “white” wall works as a reflection to the narrator of his cruel and unjust actions. The narrator’s guilt gets the best of him as he regrets the loss of the animal. However, the haunting dark undertone of the novel continues to exert itself through the text when the second cat enters the tale.
Also as a mirror for the narrator, the second cat portrays the narrator’s hate for himself. The splotch of white on this all black cat symbolizes the...

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