“Mort aux chats” is a carefully crafted poem, well disguised and veiled. We cannot, therefore, be 100% certain of Porter’s intentions when he was writing the poem.
However, what is certain is that Porter is talking about intense power, influence and evil, which he wants us to know more about through studying his poem thoroughly. At that point, Porter is aiming to be a witness for his race, realising that maybe he is guilty of prejudice too and regretting, while attempting to drive the reader to confess and repent for the crimes he/she may have committed as well.”When I dream of God I see a massacre of Cats.”Prejudice and vices will always prevail in society; otherwise, everything said or done would be useless, without any purpose. Porter looks at things this way and it is obvious he doesn’t dream of a utopian society. Simply, there are few solutions to social problems and prejudice, but the poet does not look at any. His last line shows his feelings:”Death to all cats! The Rule of Dogs shall last a thousand years!” The weaker cat (victim) is overpowered by the dogs’ evil, stronger and dominant power that is going to prevail.
The prejudice here is so hateful that death is hoped for the victim. The first line of the first stanza is in line with and portrays a similar motive and extreme brand of prejudice as the last line of the last stanza.”There will be no more cats”.
This quote seems even more aggressive and angry because of the tense usage, ie shall and that. The attitude to wipe out the victim is more confident and desperate.”Unbearably fond of the moon” intends to represent religious prejudice against atheists or people who are superstitious and worship the moon.
The atheist is cautioned; he/she is unbearable to the prejudiced person. This idea follows on from “Cats were worshipped in decadent societies (Egypt and Ancient Rome), also in the 1st stanza. The prejudiced person takes paganism as an insult to God and bursts his anger by saying ‘decadent’.Another form of prejudice proved in the poem is of huge division, partiality and disgraceful treatment to the lower social group.
“Cats sit down to pee (our scientists have proved it)” is a very ironic quote. It is portraying prejudice against the poorest and lowest class who are looked as at inhuman and isolated from other humans. ‘Our’ creates a distinct sense of selfishness possibly between the West and East.
This is a breeding ground for racial hatred. Partiality and possibly violence against women is underlined when saying “There were never any great artists who were cats.” In other words, women are defenceless and skill less while males dominates and have ‘skill’.Attitude and tone:Throughout the poem, Porter depicts the persona of the prejudicial elements of society. He is finding ways to identify with them and mock their existence through irony. The whole poem could be branded aggressive, but maybe, Porter directs this fierceness towards the prejudiced persons rather than the victims.
The poet’s tone is not always serious: “Who needs to purr to make his point” intends to criticise the prejudiced. It can be said that the word usage of ‘cat’ throughout the poem is rather trying to neglect the power of prejudice, as the ‘cat’ is often the more vulnerable.Effectiveness:The poet achieves effectiveness through a number of ways.
I believe the poem is concealed because evil is normally masked; this is in parallel with Porter’s idea to use the “cat” as an extended metaphor. The characteristic of the poem suggests hatred to the world of cats: this is a very insignificant and futile point unless the poet has a motive behind this usage of metaphor. The cat is not only acting as a faï¿½ade for one person, but is for several types of evil and prejudice.The relationship between the cat and prejudice intends to make the message of the poem concealed from the readers’ eyes. This enhances the effectiveness of the poem.
The reader can also work out for himself the different kinds of prejudices, which can widen his viewpoint and make him think longer about the issue. I think the poet’s most powerful and effective technique was that he never mentioned anything against the prejudiced person; he was biased against the victim of the prejudice throughout. This exactly got over the message of the poet through to the reader.