Cat Eyes

We briefly mentioned eyes in our class discussion of “Calliope” today, but I thought that eyes were even more prominent in “A Dream of a Thousand Cats.” On the first page both panels on the right side of the page feature the kitten protagonist looking up with big eyes. The first of these panels seems to show the kitten’s innocence. The second shows the kitten looking towards the outside before the start of the journey. When the cat-prophet is speaking her big blue eyes often feature prominently in or fill entire panels. I think the focus on her eyes really helps the reader/viewer to connect with her sad story and her message, or to at least get the feeling of being in her audience. In the panel of the journey when the cat is “in the emptiness of pure nothing” that is reflected by a black panel with just her blue eyes which seem to transcend physicality. The Cat of Dreams also has very prominent eyes. They seem to be yellow stars against the black of the rest of Dream Cat both in the close ups of his eyes and in other images of him were light seems to shine from his eyes. Then after the vision of the past in which cats were in charge (in which the lead human has black spots rather than eyes) the prophet cat says “All this I saw, when I looked into the Dream Cat’s eyes” on a panel with just the prophet cat’s eyes against a black panel. While the prophet cat finishes her sermon the panel is also focused on her eyes. This connects her experience with Dream Cat to her speech for the other cats and to the reader/viewer’s experience. You look into the prophet cat’s eyes and then see the vision of the other past.

Interestingly, this story ends on a panel of the protagonist kitten sleeping with closed eyes. The people who cannot look into the kitten’s eyes cannot see this vision and thus incorrectly assume they know what the cat dreams of. There’s a connection here between knowledge, vision, dreams, and eyes. It reminds me of the saying that ‘eyes are the windows to the soul.’ But I don’t think that quite encompasses what is being shared here through eye contact.

One thought on “Cat Eyes

  1. I also found the recurring eye motifs in “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” to be quite stunning and impactful. Eyes act as visual guides to understanding reality, like you mention above. However, eyes also connote emotional stress, change, and fluctuation–Gaiman strategically places the panels that focus on the cat’s eyes to elicit sympathy from the reader. For instance, after the cat’s owner drowns the kittens, the next panel features the main cat’s bright blue, unflinching, and fixated eyes. The reader has no other choice but to fixate on her grief and loss.

    In addition to sight, hearing also plays an important part in constructing the cat’s beliefs and reality. The legend of the power dynamic between cat and man, as well as the Dream Cat’s prophecy, rely on oral storytelling and the ability to listen. It also relies on the trustworthiness of the storyteller itself and then impressionability of the interested audience. Sight and hearing are the two most important aspects to creating a virtual world, but can we trust one sense more than the other? In the story, do the cats rely more on sight or hearing to create their virtual worlds?

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