Freedom through Perception

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The tone of Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” is sincere. The author generates sincerity through the use of imagery, diction and the narrator’s direct address of the reader. The tone allows for a dynamic change in the reader, from revulsion to sympathy. At the beginning, the reader can perceive more than the narrator (Bub) can. This creates a curious response that demands a change in Bub`s awareness. However, the reader then follows a path of compassion when Bub lowers his self-conscious shield, shares an intimate friendship, and goes through an epiphany. The tone of sincerity directs us to an ambiguous ending which leaves a question that readers must answer: What is Bub`s epiphany?
The ability of both men (Bub and Robert) to perceive situations provides contrasting imagery. The author utilizes both men’s understanding of “sight”, but most importantly their relationship with Bub’s wife. This is shown when Bub recollects the time his wife convinced him to listen to one of Robert’s tapes. Bub tells us that the tape started off as “a few minutes of harmless chitchat” (Carver 518). This statement causes contrasting imagery in the reader, as he/she experiences this “harmless chitchat” from both men’s perspective. Bub believes that this “harmless chitchat” is unimportant. However, the reader knows that Bub and his wife are having relationship problems that can be improved through unconditional conversation. The tapes demonstrate that Robert, despite his blindness, has the ability to understand Bub’s wife on a deeper level because he truly listens. The relationship between Bub and his wife provides a mental image distilled in the readers mind. This is an image of a problematic relationship, which Bub ultimately ignores. The cathedral scene r...

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... trust, which generates a change in reader response.
The author Raymond Carver uses his tone of sincerity to formulate the question: What is Bub’s epiphany? Bub’s sudden realization is the knowledge of understanding the world from a new perspective. In the closing passage of the cathedral scene Bub realizes that he can obtain freedom through the ignorance of his surroundings and through the use of his new perception. Bub’s new perspective of “sight” guides a shift in reader response. The reader feels sympathetic as Bub acquires the ability to free himself from his own confinement. Raymond Carver expresses a sincere tone through the use of imagery, diction and the narrator’s direct address of the reader. These three story elements and the ambiguous ending of “Cathedral” are used by Carver to produce a progressive response and create a lasting curiosity in the reader.
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