Raymond Carver Cathedral Summary

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In his contemporary short story, “Cathedral,” Raymond Carver tells the story of an unnamed narrator, his wife, and an old friend, a blind man named Robert. Robert has come to visit the narrator’s wife, who is quite excited to see this man whom she hasn’t seen in ten years, yet the same can’t be said of the narrator who is noticeably and vocally uncomfortable about his visit. The story is told through the narrator’s first person point of view, showcasing his thoughts and the events that take place when Robert comes to visit. Carver highlights the theme of having the ability to see, but not truly seeing, through his use of colloquial language, and creation of relatable characters. “Cathedral” begins with the narrator informing the audience…show more content…
He takes note of the simple things, like the awkward silence at dinner, where “we ate everything there was to eat on the table,” (Carver 45), and how they “got up from the table and left the dirty plates,” (Carver 45). Nothing too exciting happens, aside the narrator, when he “asked if he wanted to smoke some dope with me,” (Carver 55). Carver creates a very relatable story that mainly showcases ordinary people doing ordinary things. Although seeming to be anticlimactic for the majority of the story, these dull moments lead to a very important event. Robert and the narrator sit on the couch after the wife has fallen asleep, watching TV, when a documentary about cathedrals comes on. The narrator then proceeds to show Robert what a cathedral looks like by taking his hand and drawing a cathedral on “a shopping bag with onion skins in the the bottom of the bag.” (Carver 110) . Through this bricolage, the narrator closes his eyes and has an epiphany, for in this moment where his eyes are closed, hands intertwined, he truly sees, and “ ‘It’s really something,” (Carver 135). It’s the minimalistic approach that prefaces this big event that really showcases the theme. Carver’s use of colloquial language, in creation of an increasingly relatable scene allows for the reader to empathize with the narrator, allowing for a much stronger impact when the epiphany occurs and the story’s theme has been
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