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 remem¬
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
... 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.
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