Role Of The Narrator In Raymond Carver's Cathedral

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In Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” we are introduced to a narrator who tries to make it very clear to the reader that because he can physically see, he is better than the blind man, Robert. However, as we continue through the narrator’s interactions with Robert, it is shown that the narrator is actually quite blind to the world until Robert shows him otherwise. That is to say, the narrator can physically look at things around him, but lacks the kind of seeing that entails looking at things on a deeper level of engagement. This is the kind of seeing that allows Robert to truly see and understand things at a deeper level that the narrator would be oblivious to, such as his wife’s feelings, or even his own emotions. We get a clear vision about…show more content…
They’re built of stone. Marble, too, sometimes.” (111) Though the narrator is aware that Robert is blind, he describes the Cathedral as if he were talking to someone who could look at it as well. Likewise, instead of describing things that can be seen only by looking closer, such as the fine details of the cathedral, he describes it as if it were a giant boulder. As the narrator continues he moves away from describing the structure when he says, “In the olden days, when they built cathedrals, men wanted to be close to…show more content…
Although Robert is blind, he is very attuned to that deeper level of seeing that closely resembles what having faith is like. Likewise, he sees things others, such as the narrator cannot, and has great wisdom that we see has helped the narrator’s wife. Robert is trying to help the narrator begin to see on that deeper level when he says, “That’s all right, bub,” the blind man said. “Hey listen. I hope you don’t mind my asking you…. But let me ask if you are in any way religious? You don’t mind me asking?” (112) Robert acknowledges that the narrator is trying, but Robert is also trying to help him dig deeper within himself and see things that he would usually push to the wayside. By asking if the narrator is religious, Robert is trying to get the narrator to see that his way of looking is one-dimensional. That is, the narrator relies heavily on the principle of “what you see is what you get”, similar to people who say if they cannot see God then they cannot believe in God. Consequently, this way of looking at the world continues to inhibits the narrator’s perception of the world around
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