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Cathedral, by Raymond Carver Essay

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Raymond Carver, in his short story Cathedral uses a first-person narrator, whose point of view is very much limited and flawed. The narrator in Cathedral has full use of all his senses, unlike the blind man, Robert, who is introduced very early in the story. When comparing the two again, however, Robert is the character that is open to new ideas and willing to experience the joys of life, while the narrator limits himself due to his close-minded thinking. It brings up the question, who is truly blind in the story? Is it a physical ailment or a mental block? The narrator is never given a name in the story, making him the most impersonal character in the story. This also adds to the fact that the narrator is highly ignorant about his surroundings and has a one-sided, self-absorbed view of the world. The perception of the narrator leaves much to be inferred in many points in the story, and at first, it seems pointless to have such a closed off character and the one telling his point of view. I would like to hear the story from the wife’s point of view or Robert’s. Ultimately, however, the limited point of view of the narrator shows where the true ignorance in the world lies.
The narrator makes his opinions clear from the very beginning. In the first paragraph of the story he states, “A blind man in my house was not something that I looked forward to” (Carver, 34). This opinion continues on throughout almost the entire story. The narrator has no logical reason to explain why the thought of a blind man in his home makes him so uncomfortable either. He states that he has formed his opinion from movies where blind people move very slowly and never laugh. This is the only evidence he uses to defend his opinion, which is a very weak argu...


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...h it emotionally detached without the pleasure of living. In the end, when the narrator has his eyes closed drawing the cathedral, he is the most open he has even been to the world. The narrator’s limited point of view in the story was crucial in showing the reader that what will hold you back the most in life are your biases and judgments. If the story was told in Robert’s point of view, it would have been a joyful story about visiting a long time friend, even with the tragedy of his wife’s death. We would have never known of the prejudices that were held inside the husband, and no true theme would have come from the story. The limited point of view was used in a way that expanded upon the theme even more, and made for a stronger story structure.



Works Cited

Carver, Raymond. Cathedral. “The Norton Introduction to Literature.” New York: W.W Norton &, 2014. Print.


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