Exploring The Theme Of Raymond Carver's Cathedral

770 Words4 Pages
Noah Starr
Robin Thomas
ENGL 1102
31 Jan 2016
Theme of “Cathedral”
In the short story “Cathedral”, Raymond Carver tells a story through a narrator who is blind with jealousy and cannot see, Robert, a physically blind man in mourning, yet he is caring, easy going, and the final character, the narrator’s wife who is the bridge between them. These two men live in separate worlds, and now through the inciting incident of the death of Robert’s wife, their two worlds collide. Beginning the first day she answered Robert’s help wanted ad, he and the narrator’s wife have been longtime friends. In “Cathedral” Raymond Carver uses this story combining a narrator’s preconceived notions of the blind, who is angered by Robert, an artifact of his wife’s past,
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2) and she reads to him and they become good friends. The narrator throughout the story makes it apparent that he does not know his wife on a deeper level like Robert. For instance, when his wife tries to talk to the him, it is apparent that he does not look to converse on a deeper level yet, just go through the motions of his daily life; for example, “Right then my wife filled me in with more detail than I cared to know” (par. 14). Even though Robert cannot physically see the narrator’s wife, he is able to understand her a lot more as he listens to her through the tapes they mail back and forth between each other and have seemingly great in-depth conversations. The narrator makes it apparent that he is envious of their relationship as he reminisced about her poem. “In the poem, she talked about what she had felt at the time, about what went through her mind when the blind man touched her…” (par. 3).
The rising action begins when Robert arrives and the room fills with awkwardness as the narrator, his wife, and Robert engage in small talk. The complication is felt when the silence is interrupted by the narrator’s interjection, “Which side of the train did you sit on, by the way?” (pars. 25, 26). The night continues with dinner, drinks, and indulgent activities, and the emotional conflict of discomfort and goodwill leads to a climax with late night television. The suspense is heightened when the narrator’s wife falls asleep and Robert says “We haven’t had a chance to talk. Know what I mean?” (par.
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