Raymond Carver A Small Good Thing

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The short stories "Cathedral "and "A Small Good Thing" by Raymond Carver show the struggles of two American families and how the hardships brought new relationships and understanding to the families and those around them. "Cathedral" depicts the struggle to have a deeper connection not based on physical appearance. "A Small, Good Thing" shows the struggle to overcome the pain brought by the death of a loved one. Raymond Carver 's texts work together to show that by accepting the help of others the characters are better able to understand their own needs and struggles.

Americans are easily blinded by their comfortable middle class lives and need to be reminded, what it means to have hardships through a new perspective. In "Cathedral", the husband
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Communion with others, allowing them to help in the grieving process, is easily reached through the sharing of a meal. In the story, "A Small, Good Thing", food is a recurring topic greatly affecting the couple and their relationship. Throughout the story the couple struggles to eat, often forgetting or becoming too overwhelmed by grief. Scotty, staying in the hospital unconscious, causes his parents to worry and fear leaving his bed. The mention of food is quickly turned away several times throughout their hospital stay with the affirmation that they do not need food. The confrontation with the baker does not go as imagined and the couple ends up sharing a meal with the baker. " 'You probably need to eat something, ' the baker said, I hope you 'll eat some of my hot rolls. You have to eat and keep going. Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this" (Carver, 1983, p. 13). The baker understood the pain the couple was going through and encouraged them, offering helpful advise to make the grief more tolerable. Seeing the pain the family is experiencing, the baker turns off each of his machines that work to help him survive and focuses on the couple. The baker observes the fatigue and pain consuming the couple and knows they need to eat something. He selflessly gives them each hot rolls and coffee (Carver, 1983, p. 13). The couple graciously accepts his gift, realizing the importance of eating. Reassuring words are spoken as he tells them how important eating is in the grief…show more content…
The hardships of an American family as seen in Raymond Carvers text, "A Small, Good Thing", similar to "Cathedral", show the importance of building a relationship with someone who understands struggle. The couple has a young son and prepare to celebrate his birthday by buying a special cake. When Scotty is unexpectedly hit by a car, the couple is blindsided and does not know what to do. They stay by his side constantly, seeking answers and unintentionally pushing each other away. "For the first time, she felt they were together in it...she hadn 't let Howard into it though he was there and needed all along" (Carver, 1983, p. 4). When they realize they are shutting each other out and trying to deal with the pain and fear alone, they try to let each other in. For a short time, the couple supports each other in their suffering, until their precious son draws his final breath. His death leaves the couple dumbfounded and tense, causing them to revert back to their old ways of pushing each other away. 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
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