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One-Eyed Cat (1984)

by Paula Fox

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1,3421013,795 (3.43)27
An eleven-year-old shoots a stray cat with his new air rifle, subsequently suffers from guilt, and eventually assumes responsibility for it.

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English (9)  Spanish (1)  All languages (10)
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Meh. ( )
  ReneGuenon | Sep 20, 2021 |
It takes place in the years just after the Great Depression- times are still rather hard, pleasures are simple. The main character, an eleven-year-old boy named Ned, enjoys walking in the woods and spends a lot of time at home. His father is parson in their small town, his mother is practically bed-ridden with a debilitating illness, and their housekeeper has a sharp tongue and airs of self-importance. Ned tries to please his father, worries about his mother, and usually avoids the housekeeper. He walks to school with his friends, sometimes squabbling with the other boys. He does chores and errands for an elderly man next door, slowly building up a friendship.

Then his visiting uncle gives him an air rifle for his birthday. Ned is eager to try it out on tin cans but his father disapproves of the gift and makes him put it away in the attic until he is older. Ned has always been obedient, but now he sneaks upstairs in the middle of the night and takes the gun outside. He just wants to handle it once; then promises to himself he'll put it away again. But he sees a shadow move by the corner of a building and takes a shot. Coming home again, he thinks he glimpses a face in an upstairs window- did someone see him? hear the shot? who was it? He feels guilty, but it's so much worse when later at the old man's house he sees a dirty, thin cat in the yard- with a missing eye. Ned is convinced he's responsible for the cat's injury. It is too wild to bring indoors but with the old man he tries to care for it- leaving out food, providing shelter. He worries what will happen to the cat when winter comes. Over the next eight months, guilt slowly eats away at him. His thoughts of the cat and his fault color everything around him, and he learns how hard it is to hold up a lie, when you don't know who might really know the truth...

This is a solemn story full of calm detail about relationships, the beauty of life, and the finality of death. The descriptions of the landscape, how people think and feel, are full of clarity. The ending feels a bit -flat- there's no huge resolution- just a few quiet conversations that maybe straighten things out, a glimpse of the cat that suggests to Ned how it might be doing- but he never is really sure. Life is like that, sometimes.

from the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Sep 4, 2017 |
A quiet but powerful story of a boy who gets an air gun for his birthday, possibly accidentally (or not) injures a cat with it, and then spends the winter months doing his own private penance for it but trying to care for the cat. This main thread is supplemented by others that are equally good: his mother suffers from a debilitating illness that keeps Ned worried, and there’s also the friendship between him and an old man who lives nearby. The different parts of the story are woven together by their (and Ned’s) back-of-the-mind whispers of mortality while also all being celebrations, of a sort, of live. A good one, this. ( )
  electrascaife | Aug 20, 2017 |
For his 11th birthday Ned's uncle gives him a Daisy air-rifle. Ned's father, a preacher, doesn't approve of the gun and puts it away in the attic until Ned turns 14. Ned has always been respectful to his preacher father and his arthritic mother. He has never really been disobedient, until now. He sneaks up into the attic and brings the rifle down. He just wants to fire it once and then he will gladly put it away. He sees a shadow near the barn and shoots. As he turns to go in the house he sees a face at the window. Was it his father, who would know that Ned had disobeyed? Was it snoopy, sour Mrs. Scallop? Could it have possibly have been his mother? Ned slips back into the house and replaces the rifle. Later when he is at his neighbor's house helping out he sees a cat with only one eye. Ned is sure that he is responsible for the injury. As life happens around Ned the guilt builds up in him. Who does he tell and how will that help now? ( )
  skstiles612 | Aug 14, 2010 |
One-Eyed Cat is a beautiful story about the relationships that we build with our friends and family. This book reveals that friends and family are supposed to love unconditionally, accept one another and be there to listen. Ned is for the most part a good kid but one day, the son of a minister decides to disobey his father. Ned takes the rifle that was stored in the attic out one evening and shoots at what he thinks is a shadow? Did Ned shoot the rifle into thin air? Did Ned actually hit something? He will have to live with the consequences of his actions. Ned lives with the possible guilt of hurting another living creature all the while coping with his mother's serious illness and becoming friends with an elderly man. One-Eyed Cat is a quick and easy read. It is a great story about family and friends. ( )
  coriblake | Feb 18, 2009 |
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There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day.
Or for many years or stretching cycle of years.
--Walt Whitman
For my sons Gabriel and Adam and for my brothers James and Keith
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Ned Wallis was the minister's only child.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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An eleven-year-old shoots a stray cat with his new air rifle, subsequently suffers from guilt, and eventually assumes responsibility for it.

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An eleven-year-old shoots a stray cat with his new air rifle, subsequently suffers from guilt, and eventually assumes responsibility for it.

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