In the short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, the narrator describes the night when his wife’s blind friend, Robert, comes to visit. From the very beginning of the story, the husband is not thrilled about the upcoming visit and makes sure to express his disdain in various ways. This is because he does not understand Robert’s disability and how it both has and has not affected his way of life. It is because of this that the husband can be seen as a “blind” man as well. In the beginning of the story, before Robert arrives, the wife and husband begin talking about him.
Before the narrator draws the cathedral, his world is uncomplicated: he can see, and Robert cannot. But when he attempts to describe the cathedral that’s shown on television, he realizes that Robert will “have to forgive [him], [for he] can’t tell [Robert] what a cathedral looks like” (Carver 41). More important, he decides that the reason he can’t find those words is that “cathedrals don’t mean anything special to [him]” (Carver 41). When he takes the time to draw the cathedral he has to really think about it and vision it in his mind. He then finds himself really envisioning the cathedral, adding details and people to make the picture come to life and even drawing some of it with his eyes closed.
What would one expect to be the attitude of a man whose wife has just invited, what seems a lot like a past love interest, to come stay with them? It is such a character as the narrator that Raymond Carver portrays in his famous story “Cathedral”. Said visitor is a blind man who goes by the name of Robert. The narrator, who’s name we never learn, shows no sympathy towards the man throughout the story, even after finding out about the loss of his beloved wife. It isn’t until the two men come together to sketch a Cathedral that the narrator is able to change his perspective after “seeing” what he couldn’t “see” prior to this epiphanic experience.
He starts the story with a brief overview of his wife's past and how she met Robert. After filling the readers in, he picks up the story with a conversation between him and his wife before the visit. He expresses some uncomfortableness with him staying at their house since he does not know Robert, and his blindness made his nervous. His wife asks him to try and make him comfortable
A void is evident in their marriage much like the void seen in "Cathedral 's " couple. The couple is grieving the death of their son, each in their own way, and find it hard to relate, while the couple from "Cathedral" struggles to relate in the wife 's relationship with the blind man and her desire to be understood. The phone continually rings with the anxious baker wanting Scotty 's birthday cake to be picked up. Anger towards the anonymous caller is used to unite the couple
By doing so, the audience experiences everything through the eyes of the narrator. The narrator, also being the story’s protagonist, attempts the attract the sympathy of the reader through his perspective of the exposition. For example, in the beginning of the short story, the narrator explains the blind man’s connection to his wife. It is during this phase of narrative that we get glimpses of a jealous undertone that will follow the narrator for the majority of the piece. This is first demonstrated on page 33 when he describes his wife’s ex-fiance: “Her officer—why should he have a name?
In my understanding of the story “Cathedral” by the author, Raymond Carver, in the beginning, the protagonist is not keen on the idea of his wife's recently widowed Blind friend, Robert staying the night at their home. The narrator seems to have a negative preconception about blind people, believing that they cannot live an ordinary life because they do not physically see the world as he does. Throughout the story, I think there were clues about how the blind man can see, through the use of his other senses, for example, the way that the blind man could see the narrator's wife was by touching her face, tracing her facial features with his fingers. At dinner, the blind man's sense of smell and touch guided him to eat and drink like everyone
In Cathedral, the speaker at first is very uncomfortable with the idea of having a blind man stay at his house. He is a very shallow person, never gives much thought to anything, and he does not try to connect to his wife on a deeper level. At the end of the story, the blind man and the speaker are alone, and the blind man asks him what a cathedral looks like. The speaker says that he cannot describe it, that he does not believe in God, so a cathedral would not have much importance to him. The blind man then has the speaker draw what a cathedral looks like, and he placed his hand on top of the speaker’s while he drew.
It could be the drinks they shared acting as social lubricant, but the tone of his attitude toward Robert changes for the better. He is impressed by Robert’s ability to navigate through the social occasions of meeting new people and sharing a meal and drinks. He begins to realize that Robert’s blindness is not nearly the handicap that he had imagined. When the narrator and Robert are watching TV, there is an educational program on about cathedrals. The narrator attempts to describe a cathedral to Robert, but is unable to do so.
We all know that satirical stories are written to attract readers; we, as readers, somehow relate to them as we compare and contrast them to our own lives, looking unto both sympathetic and unsympathetic characters, and questioning which are we most like. Raymond Carver, who is noted for his “minimalistic type of prose,” proves what we know of the typical satire. In his short story, “Cathedral,” we realize the difference between looking and seeing. The sympathetic character of the story is Robert, a blind man who sees the world not with sight but with insight. He meets a man whose vision is intact but fails to see the world at its best.