Plato’s “Myth of the Cave” and Carver’s Cathedral provide insight into parallel words. The protagonists in each story are trapped in a world of ignorance because each is comfortable in the dark, and fearful of what knowledge a light might bring. They are reluctant to venture into unfamiliar territory. Fortunately the narrator in the Cathedral is forced by circumstances to take a risk. This risk leads him into new world of insight and understanding.
The narrator in “The Cathedral” begins the story with the issue of hesitation in seeing the light. The light in this story just like the light in Plato’s “Myth of the Cave” represents reality. The narrator expresses the fear of expressing reality when he said “ I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing eye-dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I look forward to”. (Page 98). The narrator felt that being blind was like being in a type of prison and the preconceived notion of self-imprisonment was frightening to him. He felt that blindness was exactly like being a prisoner in Plato’s Cave, a scary world where no light ever penetrated. Unfortunately, the husband is imprisoned in his own ignorance. His view of blindness had come from Hollywood’s portrayal of blind people. As far as he is concerned, his situation is completely normal. He knows there are lots of people just like him.
In “The Cathedral” the extent of the husband’s ignorance or naiveté is extremely irritating. When his wife tells him the beautiful story of the blind man’s romantic relationship with his wife Beulah, all he could think of is “ What a pitiful life this woman must have led. Imagine a woman who could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loved one. A woman who could on day after day and never see the smallest compliment from her beloved. A woman whose husband could never read the expression on her face, be it misery or something better”. (Page 100). But the blind man had sight in the form of intuitiveness. This sight gave him greater vision than the sighted man.
The blind man had a sense of and source of reality in the truth and strength of the relationship. This man was unlike the prisoners in the cav...
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... when he closes his eyes in order to imagine and draw the cathedral. ”Close your eyes now, the blind man said to me. I did it. I closed them just like he said. Are they closed? He said. Don’t fudge. They are closed, I said. Keep them that way, he said. He said, don’t stop now. Draw. So we kept on with it. His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was nothing else in my life up to now. Then he said, I think that’s it. I think you got it, he said. Take a look. What do you think? But I had my eyes closed. I thought I would keep them that way for a little longer. I thought it was something I ought to do. Well, he said. Are you looking? My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But, I didn’t feel like I was inside anything. It’s really something I said”. (Page 108). By becoming blind he sees clearly how the blind man’s world really is. Being temporarily blind opens his eyes to the world around him. He can understand the handicap, with understanding comes compassion, and the compassion has caused him to develop new insight into the world around him. Interaction with the blind man has allowed him to see, and has removed him from his own personal cave.
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