The Cathedral by Raymond Carver
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996 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)
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"Cathedral" is a short story ultimately about enlightment, finding something more meaningful and deeper with in one self. Although from an observing point of view nothing more in the story happens then a blind man assisting the narrator in drawing a cathedral. Although as known, the narrator's experience radically differs from what is actually "observed". He is enlightened and opened up to a new world of vision and imagination. This brief experience will have a life long effect on him. The reason for this strong and positive effect is not so much the relationship made between the blind man and the narrator or even the actual events leading up to this experience, but rather it is mostly due to what was drawn by the narrator.
A cathedral, besides being a grand and aesthetically pleasing architectural work, carries a very meaningful and symbolic connotation to it that has been building up for thousands of years. It is a place where one can find truth and strive for eternal happiness. The cathedral symbolizes equality and answers to all that humans seek out to find in the non-material world. Because of this benevolent and mystical connotation, drawing a cathedral had a profound effect on the narrator in terms of his wisdom and spirituality.
One of the most important elements of Christianity is equality; everybody should be treated equally regardless of who they are. A cathedral, being a place made for Christian prayer, is a direct resemblance of this value and contributes to the effect it has on the narrator when he draws it. In the beginning of "Cathedral" the narrator is seen as a prejudice man who judges based on stereotype. This is seen in the first paragraph when the narrator stereotypes the blind saying that his "...
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...om his comment about cathedrals. In a sense, Robert justifies his understanding of the narrator's situation by asking him to draw a cathedral for him which ultimately has this profound experience and revelation on the narrator.
Thousand of years ago a famous Greek philosopher by the name of Plato described God in this manner, "We signify that he [God] is justice, that he is truth, that he is love, that he is order, that he is the very progress of which we were speaking". Even though this was before Christian times, this universal image of God is visible today through the teaching of Christianity. A cathedral is a direct projection of these teachings, it is a projection of such virtues as justice, truth, love, order. In his enlightment, the narrator reaches out to all these virtues when he draws a cathedral. He is enlightened by God, who wisdom and love is endless.
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