The Narcissistic Narrator In Raymond Carver's Cathedral

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“His being blind bothered me” (Carver 1). In Raymond Carver’s short story Cathedral, Carver establishes an ignorant narrator, who is dependent on alcohol and fixated upon physical appearance; he juxtaposes the narrator to a blind man who sees with his heart rather than his eyes. Through indirect characterization, Carver contrasts the narcissistic narrator to the intuitive blind man while utilizing sight as a symbol of emotional understanding. He establishes the difference between looking and seeing to prove that sight is more than physical. Because of his narcissistic personality, the narrator views his wife as an object, while the blind man, Robert, treats her as a friend and a confidant. The narrator’s inability to feel emotion causes him to value his wife’s body more than her emotions, therefore, he becomes jealous when the blind…show more content…
Contrasting the narrator, Robert feels love, rather than physically “seeing” it, an emotion the narrator is incapable of. The narrator wonders “who’d want to go to such a wedding in the first place” (Carver 2) considering the wedding consisted of “just the two of them, plus the minister and the minister’s wife” (Carver 2). Instead of viewing marriage as a celebration of the love between two people, he sees marriage as a tangible ceremony focused on physicality. Because of Robert inability to see, the narrator discounts Robert and his wife’s love for each other. Their marriage was “beyond [his] understanding… they’d married, lived and worked together… and then the blind man had to bury her… without his having ever seen what [she] looked like” (Carver 2). Robert loves his wife and views her as his soulmate rather than a body to fill empty space. Robert’s physical blindness does not hold him back from feeling, while the narrator’s emotional lack of sight proves more
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