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Essay Prejudices in Cathedral by Raymond Carver

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Is intimacy with one person sufficient? The answer is no. In life, we must have several relationships on all levels. It is not to say that we should go out and have affairs behind our loved ones, but we should make personal connections with others to help us grow intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. Otherwise, we remain static showing little development in ourselves. In Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”, the narrator fails to see this point and thus becomes jealous of his wife who has a strong emotional connection with a blind man. “Cathedral” presents life in a subtle yet harsh manner and teaches us to open our eyes to better ourselves; as a result, reflection of reality lends to the literary strength of the short story. Carver demonstrates the inevitable controversy when society is confronted with abnormality but also what happens if we learn to reject our prejudices through the use of conflict, irony, and symbolism.
Carver sets “Cathedral” in an early 1980s middle class suburban house. In this time period, authors including Carver wrote about the heartbreaks, frustrations, and the harsh realities of middle class life. This type of writing was known as “dirty realism”. Carver’s minimalist style of writing is very similar to Ernest Hemmingway’s in the sense that it contains mostly actions and sometimes comedic dialogue. The reader is left to analyze and infer what are the characters’
emotions and thoughts. The couple speaks in everyday language, making it easy for the reader to follow along. Much like Hemmingway’s “Hills like White Elephants”, readers are able to discern that there are troubles beneath the surface of their relationship. Both couples in these stories have trouble communicating and fixing their core issues ...


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...y through certain kinds of art” (“Catharsis”), which perfectly describes what has happened with the narrator.
The narrator’s growth and change is a testament to the literary strength of Carver’s “Cathedral”. It truly demonstrates what Carver wanted by “believing in miracles and the possibility of resurrection” (Messer 58). The blind man left a gift that is priceless; the gift of sight. The narrator can know distinguish between looking versus seeing and hearing versus listening. “Cathedral” is not just a narrative but rather something to inspire us to improve on ourselves. We are left with a certain measure of beauty and truth because these problems of ignorance and prejudices within the narrator have been resolved. It suggests to readers that we hold back our own prejudices and seek to connect with others on various levels in order to enrich and develop ourselves.



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