Blindness in Raymond Carver's Cathedral

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Blindness in Raymond Carver's Cathedral

Blindness creates a world of obscurity only to be overcome

with guidance from someone willing to become intimate with the

blind. Equally true, the perceptions of blindness can only be

overcome when the blind allow intimacy with the sighted. Raymond

Carver, with his short story Cathedral, illustrates this point

through the eyes of a man who will be spending an evening with a

blind man, Robert, for the first time. Not only does this man not

know Robert, but his being blind, "bothered" (Carver 98) him.

His, "idea of blindness came from the movies", where, "...the

blind move slowly and never laughed" (Carver 98). These

misconceptions of blindness form barriers between the blind and

the sighted. Carver breaks down these barriers as he brings the

vastly different lives of these two men together.

Those of us with sight find it difficult to identify with

the blind. This man, like most of us, can only try to imagine

what life is like for Robert. As a result of his inability to

relate with Robert, he thinks his behaviors are odd, and is

unable to understand the relationship he has with his wife. His

wife worked for this blind man many years ago, reading him

reports and case studies, and organizing his "...little office"

(Carver 98) in the county's social-service department. He rememĀ¬

bers a story his wife told about the last day she worked for him.

The blind man asked her if he could touch her face, and she

agreed. She told him that Robert had touched every part of her

face with his fingers, "...her nose-even her neck!" (Carver 98).

His wife wrote poetry whenever something important happened in

her life, and she "...tried" (Carver 98) to write a poem about

this unf...

... middle of paper ...

...ed, "It's really something" (Carver

108). The man had allowed himself to experience, even if just for

a few minutes, what the blind man experienced every second of his

life. This, with the same man only a few hours ago he didn't want

in his house.

Overcoming prejudices, fears, and misconceptions is only

possible when you allow yourself to get close to a person these

feelings are directed towards. By becoming close with Robert, the

man in this story experienced what was necessary to gain an

understanding of what life is like for the blind. The man began

to draw the cathedral to try and help Robert visualize what one

looked like. What he didn't realize at the time was that Robert

was helping him to visualize what blindness felt like.


Carver, Raymond. "Cathedral". The Story and Its Writer by, Ann Charters. Bedford Press. 1999.