Analysis Pages

Plot in The Black Cat

Plot Examples in The Black Cat:

The Black Cat

🔒 3

"Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster..."   (The Black Cat)

The inclusion of “hair” in the narrator’s mix of plaster raises questions about the source of the material. Horsehair plaster is a traditional mortar used in construction. However, the narrator only mentions procuring hair, broadly speaking. It could be that the narrator took the hair from his wife before burying her, a decision that expresses metonymic, or contagious, magic and also reveals the narrator’s characteristic arrogance. By hiding his wife’s corpse behind a wall of her own hair, he leaves his secret somewhat open to discovery—a move he makes again in the story’s conclusion.

"But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend!..."   (The Black Cat)

The narrator must understand that he is to die imminently. In this final appeal to God, he requests that his soul be judged worthy of heaven, rather than hell. The narrator seems to understand the futility of such a request.

"FOR THE MOST wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief...."   (The Black Cat)

Poe introduces an unusual type of narrator: an unreliable narrator who recognizes his own unreliability. The narrator understands that the events he is about to share may come across as fantastical to the reader. This is an interesting narrative ruse by Poe because the story is indeed fantastical. Addressing the story’s seeming fictionality within the narrative gives the events some weight.

Analysis Pages