The Killing of Cat; or, is the Past a Foreign Country?

by Shalonda Fogel, June 2014

600 words

2 pages


The title serves to reveal about the treatment of cats over time. ‘The killing of cats’ is well documented in history books. Times have truly changed in the sense that cats used to be adored in the past (Arnold 94; 96). This treatment had to change for one reason or another such that a time came when cats were associated with evil acts. People begun mistreating them and even killing them for fun thus the title ‘The Killing of Cat; or, is the Past a Foreign Country?’ The past is referred to as a foreign country on the basis of how it is different from the present. This is evident by the different way of thinking and occurrences during a given period.

The chapter talks about the past and present time in a rather intriguing way. It starts by talking about how cats were treated in the past and how that has changed with time. As the treatment of cats deteriorated, prisoners among other offenders were compared to cats (Arnold 98). As a result, victims were harshly punished for their offenses. A closer look and understanding of the chapter reveals the bigger picture where the author is talking about different times and comparing how the past if different from the present. The chapter highlights the difference in culture of people during different periods. It is imperative to note that culture affects how people think and act. It is evident; therefore, that culture varies from one period to another especially through the centuries. Periodization is unavoidable as much it is unnecessary (Arnold 101).

As mentioned earlier, the story behind the killing of cats was used to show how events can change with time. In this case, ‘the cat’ is a factor that has been kept constant. The relationship between human beings and cats changes with time depending on the prevailing culture, beliefs and thinking.

Cats were killed in the medieval period for fear of their close association with the devil (Arnold 103). The seventeenth century continued to witness the killing of the cats on the basis that they belonged to witches. This trend spilled over to the eighteenth century especially in France to indicate that not so much had changed with regard to what they thought about cats at the time. The situation eased towards the twentieth century.

Historians have been reported to have varied views about people in the past and present times. There are those of the opinion that people in the past are similar to those of the present. On the other hand, the other group of historians believes that the two are different.

The concept of ‘mentalite’ suggests that people in the past were different than those of the present times. It should be noted that people in the past had their ‘present time’ at the time. They had their ‘now’ which could be different from our present. Various periods present different events and occurrences. The year 2000 was associated with millennium disasters and hence extreme related worries (Arnold …

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