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Literary Devices in Carver's Cathedral Essay

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Upon reading Raymond Carver's short story of the Cathedral one will notice the literary devices used in the short story. When analyzing the story completely, one then understands the themes, motifs, metaphors, and the overall point of the piece. This leaves the reader with an appreciation of the story and a feeling of complete satisfaction.

Carver tells the story in first person of a narrator married to his wife. Problems occur when she wants a friend of hers, an old blind man, to visit for a while because his wife has died. The narrator's wife used to work for the blind man in Seattle when the couple was financial insecure and needed extra money. The setting here is important, because Seattle is associated with rain, and rain symbolically represents a cleansing or change. This alludes to the drastic change in the narrator in the end of the story. The wife and blind man kept in touch over the years by sending each other tape recordings of their voices which the narrator refers it to being his wife's "chief means or recreation" (pg 581).

The narrator does not move chronologically, contrarily, but uses small flashbacks to tell his point, leading up to the actual visit of the blind man where he then tells the story in a present tense. This lets the author seem like he is actually telling the story in person, reflecting on past occurrences of his life when necessary. His tone however, is a cynical, crude, humorous tone that carries throughout the story. The word choice and sentences are constructed with simple, lifelike words, which makes the reader sense the author is really telling the story to them.

The narrator is biased against the blind from the beginning. For instance, he stereotypes all blind people thinking they ...


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...irst time for everything." However, because of the way her "inhaled" and "held in the smoke", the narrator believes he has been "doing it since he was nine years old" (pg. 506). This alludes to Robert's childhood, another thing the narrator and him share.

Hence, upon analyzing the story, one can conclude the certain themes that parallel through the pages. Firstly, a theme of unity and trust is present at the end of the play. This is supported by the image of the cathedral, which is a place of unity. Most importantly, the notion of equality among people is the main theme within this story. The narrator starts as a biased, idiot, who dislikes all people that are not like himself. He even at times is rude to his wife. Ironically, it takes a blind man to change the man that can literally see, to rule out the prejudices and to teach him that all men are created equal.


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