Irresolute endings and rhetorical poetics: Readers respond to Roupenian's "Cat person"

Kelly Walsh, Terry Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within days of being published in the New Yorker on December 11, 2017, Kristen Roupenian's "Cat Person"had sparked a storm of internet activity, inspiring "countless tweets"and "think pieces about modern dating, consent, feminism and the role of fiction in American culture."The positive responses also provoked backlash from some readers, who voiced irritation with the story through social media, debating, for instance, whether Margot or Robert is the more sympathetic character, or if "Cat Person"is a self-indulgent personal essay. The wide range of popular interpretations, we contend, while reflective of the contemporary cultural moment, is also a result of the story's sophisticated deployment of narratological and stylistic techniques. A good deal of the controversy, particularly among millennials, has been generated by its irresolute ending, which induces readers to develop divergent search strategies, while overlooking certain improbabilities and deviations from the story's dominant code.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-104
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Irresolute endings and rhetorical poetics: Readers respond to Roupenian's "Cat person"'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this