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Some Leftovers! (Previous Reads) > July 2016: The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

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 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu (jennsbookmarks) | 7041 comments July 2016: "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe

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For July, we will read a short story in the mystery genre. Members made great suggestions and we voted for The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe.

Synopsis

"The Black Cat" is one of Edgar Allan Poe's most memorable stories. The tale centers around a black cat and the subsequent deterioration of a man. The story is often linked with "The Tell-Tale Heart" because of the profound psychological elements these two works share.

Questions to Ponder

What is important about the title of "The Black Cat"?

What are the conflicts in "The Black Cat"? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) do you see in this story?

How does Edgar Allan Poe reveal character in "The Black Cat"?

What are some themes and symbols in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?

Is the narrator consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?

Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why?

What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?

How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else?

What are some of the controversial elements of the story? Were they necessary?

What is the role of women in the text?

Would you recommend this story to a friend?

Links

http://www.poemuseum.org/

http://www.poestories.com/

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2148/...


 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu (jennsbookmarks) | 7041 comments Any thoughts on the short story?


message 3: by Melanti (new)

Melanti Just a re-read for me.

It does make me wonder how Poe's alcoholism affected him, though. Was any part of the narrator's behavior auto-biographical?


 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu (jennsbookmarks) | 7041 comments Perhaps...
Much of his work included reflections of his own life from what I remember.


message 5: by Lauri (new)

Lauri I usually do not enjoy reading Poe, but this short story in my opinion, is his best.

I felt this was a story of the "insanity" of alcoholism; the self-loathing, guilt, and the tendency to blame others when one's life seems to be out of control.

I did not realize that Poe himself suffered from alcoholism. Chilling.


 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu (jennsbookmarks) | 7041 comments He had a pretty rough life, his writing is definitely a reflection of his life choices.


message 7: by Melanti (new)

Melanti The general consensus is he started drinking when his wife was dying of tuberculosis and had intermittent drinking issues in the following years.

He'd joined a temperance society and was theoretically abstaining in the months before his death.

Poe's death is pretty mysterious. He disappeared and several days later, he was found staggering in a ditch, delirious, wearing clothing that didn't belong to him. He died a couple of days after that.

Theories about what happened to him range from rabies to brain tumors to a drinking binge to being kidnapped and forced to participate in election fraud.


A horrible, but fitting end for Poe, considering his fiction!


message 8: by Lohengrin (new)

Lohengrin | 11 comments Poe is one the masters, for me, of ambiguity and unreliable narrators. We could read this story as a supernatural morality tale, as a cautionary tale about drinking-induced madness, as a tale of a haunting and revenge (by the cat), etc.


 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu (jennsbookmarks) | 7041 comments Lohengrin wrote: "Poe is one the masters, for me, of ambiguity and unreliable narrators. We could read this story as a supernatural morality tale, as a cautionary tale about drinking-induced madness, as a tale of a ..."

Yes, we can take so many different elements away from Poe's work.


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