Prejudice In Raymond Carver's Cathedral

Good Essays
Carver highlights the narrator’s prejudice in the opening section of the story in order to reveal how the narrator’s bias against blind people in general leads to a preconceived negative opinion on Robert. From the outset, the narrator acknowledges his prejudice by mentioning that his “idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed” (Carver, 1). The narrator’s negative prejudice is not caused by knowing a blind man; rather, it is derived from an external factor, demonstrating how the narrator has formulated an opinion on people he has never met. Consequently, the narrator assumes that Robert will conform to the negative stereotype present in his mind, and is unpleased about Robert’s visit. Carver…show more content…
After a small introduction when the two characters first meet, the narrator recognizes that he “didn’t know what else to say” (Carver, 4), signifying his inability in connecting with Robert. A reason behind the trouble in connecting is discussed in “Literary Analysis of Cathedral” by Niwar A. Obaid, where he writes “The narrator’s apparently judgmental and doubtful tone… [set] a difficult attitude once the blind man and the narrator actually meet”. Obaid lists the narrator’s tone as one of the primary reasons why the narrator is reluctant to get to know Robert better. Since the narrator’s tone is caused by his prejudices, as previously shown, one can infer from Obaid’s writing that the real reason behind the narrator’s reluctance to form a relationship is his prejudice against the blind. Later in the story, Carver juxtaposes Robert’s readiness to learn more about the narrator to the narrator’s initial refusal to develop a relationship to Robert. Robert, an unprejudiced man, asks the narrator a series of questions such as “How long [have you been in your] present position?” (Carver, 7), to which the narrator, a man with prejudice against the blind, responds with curt answers, such as “Three Years.” (Carver, 7). Through this juxtaposition, Carver conveys to his audience how the narrator’s biases and stereotypes prevent him from…show more content…
In the story, the narrator’s narrow mindset is challenged over and over again as Robert breaks most stereotypes that the narrator held. As these stereotypes are broken, the narrator begins to feel more comfortable with Robert, and sincerely tells him that he is “glad for the company”. This release from prejudice culminates in the cathedral drawing scene of the story, where the narrator finally lets go of his bias towards blind people. Once the narrator closes his eyes, he is seemingly equal to Robert, and he consequently begins to understand Robert’s perspective. His newfound empathy towards Robert demonstrates how he has lost his prejudice towards him. After forfeiting his bias, the narrator is finally able to develop a deeper relationship with Robert, stating that “[Robert’s] fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was like nothing else in my life before”. The physical connection that the narrator notes is an indicator towards the strengthened bond between the two. The narrator forged a relationship with Robert by letting go of his prejudices, and through this, Carver implies that to develop sincere relationships, one must relinquish personal
Get Access