The Use Of Blindness In Raymond Carver's Cathedral

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The act of looking corresponds to physical vision, but in Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” the act of seeing involves a much deeper level of engagement. The narrator is fully capable of looking. He looks at his house and wife, and he looks at Robert. The narrator is not blind and therefore assumes that he is superior to Robert. Robert’s blindness, the narrator believes, makes him unable to have any kind of normal life. The narrator is certain that the ability to see is everything and puts no effort into seeing anything beyond the surface. The only way he can break free from this artificial world that he has isolated himself in if he lets down his guard and surrenders his jealousy and insecurity. The narrator is resentful of the connection that…show more content…
They talked of things that had happened to them—to them!…I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife’s sweet lips: ‘And then my dear husband came into my life’—something like that. But I heard nothing of the sort. More talk of Robert” (Carver 422). Through research by four professors, they concluded that “Humans have a fundamental need to form and maintain interpersonal relationships. Circumstances that threaten to thwart the need to belong can elicit a variety of negative reactions, from a loss of meaning in life and depression” (Nicholas et al. 550). The narrator, in his own eyes, has no real meaning. His constant drunkenness shields his depression and in times of silence, the narrator and Robert continue to flush down whiskey, one glass after another. Ala Eddin Saleq makes the point that the “Characters' silence[s] is indicative of their inability to communicate with (each)other, reflect(ing) a recurring theme in Carver's fiction. Often his stories are about discourse itself, ways people communicate or fail to communicate, demonstrating consequences of various modes of discourse” (Sadeq). The silence, like most things in the narrators life, makes him uncomfortable, yet to Robert he seems to be covered with a sense of relaxation and peace, something the narrator longs…show more content…
He comes to see that his own tunnel vision has limited and isolated his view of the world around. The two men hold hands while drawing the Cathedral. If not for this life-changing experience, this narrator would simply have continued on his close-minded lifestyle never learning about or accepting other people as they are. After finishing the drawing of the cathedral Robert asks, ”What's a cathedral without people?” (Carver 428). Characterized as a social place where people meet, the cathedral becomes a symbol of the husband's ability to overcome his loneliness and his inability to communicate. The last few sentences of the story paint a picture of someone coming to the realization that being blind can be more than just a physical limitation. A person can be blinded to the feelings of others and the problems that can affect our everyday life, yet through interaction and tolerance an individual can find both themselves and an awareness for people around
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