The Metaphorical Blindness In Raymond Carver's Cathedral

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Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” illustrates how the lack of one of the five senses, such as sight, does not always equate to a limited view of the world. Despite Robert’s inability to see physical world, he has the ability to relate to people on an intimate level and gain a deeper understanding of who they truly are even though he will never be able to see their physical bodies. The narrator, however, suffers from a metaphorical blindness which prevents him from seeing the world in a more empathetic light. Ironically, it takes a blind man to teach the narrator how to truly see the world. The narrator’s thoughts and actions regarding Robert are influenced by his own preconceived ideas about blind men. As soon as his wife mentions that Robert is going to be staying with them he says, “I wasn't…show more content…
The narrator consistently shows a lack of empathy towards his wife, Robert, and society as a whole. When his wife begins to tell him about the passing of Robert’s wife, all the man can think about is how much of a “pitiful life this woman must have led” since her husband was never going to be able to see her with his eyes (213). His wife then attempts to get her husband to sympathize with Robert since he just lost his wife, Buelah. As soon as he heard Buelah’s name, he asked “Was his wife a Negro?” (212). The narrator shows no empathy for Robert’s devastating loss; instead he chooses to focus on physical factors of Robert’s marriage to Buelah. He is too preoccupied with the idea that she was perfectly content with Robert never seeing her physical appearance as well as with the fact that she was a woman of color. Robert’s metaphorical blindness is shown here through his inability to empathize with Robert on his life, marriage, and loss. Instead all he could do was pity his life and accept the fact that it “was beyond [his] understanding”
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