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Cathedral Essay

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Cathedral

“I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me” (99) the narrator tells us in Raymond Carver’s Cathedral. An old friend of the narrator’s wife, Robert, is coming to visit them at their home. The narrator is not at all pleased with this situation and lets us know it from the beginning. Throughout the story, the narrator begins to see the blind man in a different light and his mind-set begins to change to admiration.

The narrator seems to be somewhat jealous at first of the relationship between his wife and their visitor. He says, “She told him everything, or it seemed to me” (100). His wife had worked for the blind man for one summer ten years ago, yet she continued to communicate with him via tapes. The narrator must have felt some sort of envy towards the man who knew more about his wife’s life than he, her husband did.

Not ever having “met or personally known anyone who was blind” (102) left the narrator at a loss as to how this man was going to behave or what they could do or talk about. He had read and heard things about the blind but Robert turned out to be none of these. The narrator thought “dark glasses were a must for the blind” (102) but Robert wore none. He had also heard blind men could not smoke because they could not see the smoke they exhaled “but this blind man smoked his cigarette down to the nubbin and then lit another one” (103).

Slowly, the narrator becomes interested by how the blind man carries himself and his abilities despite his handicap. During the meal the three were having, the narrator remarks, “I watched with admiration as he used his knife and fork on the meat” (103). After dinner, when they sit down to talk and hav...


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...and had nothing in common except for the wife.
A lot changes though and they come to share a lot more. When we begin the story, the narrator is shown as ignorant towards blind people. He does not know what to expect or how to react to this strange man who does not act much like the narrator’s one-sided ideas of how a blind man should be. Robert is unique and the narrator soon starts to realize this. He begins admiring the capabilities that are more or less like his own. When they finish the picture of the cathedral, the narrator keeps his eyes closed. The blind man had given him a piece of himself and what it meant to be blind. In the end, they both give each other a special gift. The narrator gives the blind man a mental picture he can take with him about the way a cathedral looks to him. The blind man gives the narrator the gift of understanding and enlightenment.


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