The black cat is initially introduced as an odd and intriguing happenstance. The black cat seemingly appears out of nowhere, and the landlord knows nothing about the cat’s origins (721). When the narrator stumbles upon the second black cat, he emphasizes how alike this cat and Pluto are. Both of these creatures are black and have only one eye. The only difference between these animals is that the second cat has a white splotch of hair on its breast area. This white mark and its location suggest that the cat’s heart is pure, which could make the cat a character of righteous vengeance. Despite these uncanny similarities, the unsuspecting narrator caresses the creature and allows the beast to follow him home (721). At this stage, the cat represents the beginnings of guilt. Guilt creeps up on the narrator; he curiously welcomes the cat in without knowing that this animal will be his torturous demise.
The narrator soon begins to feel a strong dislike towards the cat—a hatred for his guilt. “Slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred” (721). At this point, the narrator develops a sense of shame as he remembers his former sin, and this sense and remembrance prevents him from physical...
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...imax of guilt. The officers quickly dismantled the wall, and the black cat stands on top of the corpse’s head. The narrator meets his inevitable consequences with the final words, “…the hideous beast…had seduced me to murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. I had walled the monster up within the tomb!” (724). Guilt finally obtained the retribution it craved for so long.
The second black cat acts as a symbol for guilt in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat.” The cat helps express the theme that guilt is inescapable and that shame and conviction will always follow a person until justice is reconciled. Even though guilt needs retribution, guilt still gives the narrator two choices; he could continue to live in sin or repent for his wicked deeds. The narrator decides to stay in his wickedness, but guilt does not rest until justice overcomes evil.
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