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Inability to Interact with Others in Raymond Carver's Cathedral Essay example

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In Raymond Carver's Cathedral “appear...extreme versions of insularity,from a husband's self-imposed confinement to a living room in 'Preservation' to another's pathetic reluctance to leave an attic garret in 'Careful'” (Meyer). One of Carver's chief goals in cathedral is to criticize people who fail, in one way or another, to communicate with society. In almost every short story, the main character suffers from insularity due to a horrible event in his or her life, alcoholism, or a failure to consider others' thoughts and feelings. The stories, “Careful,” “Preservation,” “Cathedral,” and “The Compartment” easily represent the entire novel's theme of the inability to relate with others. Each of these stories shows a slightly different degree of affliction, circumstance, and character types making the entire novel effective to a broad audience. Carver wants people to stop thinking that “[the loss of the ability to interact with others] is something that happens to other people” (Carver 25)
On the surface, “Careful” is a simple story about a man, Lloyd, whose wife, Inez, left him because of his drinking problems. Lloyd also has problems with his hearing due to a earwax problem; however, this man has far more troubles than is on the surface. Lloyd has problems with alcohol and an inability to listen to others which cause him to become isolated from others. These problems persist throughout the novel.
“One morning [Lloyd] woke up and promptly fell to eating crumb doughnuts and drinking champagne. There'd been a time, some years back, when ye would have laughed at having a breakfast like this.” A double meaning seems to exist here. First, the reader learn that a change occurred in the protagonist that changed him fundamentally. The ...


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...emingly lost the ability to communicate with others in addition to his ability to connect to others. Carver believes that communication between individuals is essential for lasting relationships to exist – which is very true. This is why Carver stresses communication in so many of his stories: “Preservation,” “The Compartment,” “A Small Good Thing,” “Vitamins,” “Careful,” “Where I'm Calling From,” and “Cathedral.”
In the end, Meyer confirms the reader's suspicion that his condition is irreversible. “Due to a last minute change of heart, however, Meyers chooses to stay insulated in his "compartment" and, remaining on the train, reneges on his promise to the boy, walling out everything external to his selfish world, paternal obligation included” (Meyer). The way that “something caught and fell into place” (Carver, 57) symbolizes the permanence of Meyers psychosis.



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