In Raymond Carver’s story, "Cathedral," one man’s prejudice is overcome by another man’s gift. The husband in the story is given the gift of seeing a cathedral through a blind man’s eyes. The true gift comes from the cathedral, which represents the husband’s prejudice and the blind man’s open-mindedness. This gift is the revelation the husband experiences while he "looks" at the cathedral with his eyes still closed.
According to Anatole Broyard "Cathedral" is "a lovely piece about a blind man who asks an acquaintance to guide his hand in sketching a cathedral he has never seen. At the end, the two hands moving together—one guided by the other—come to seem a gesture of fraternity" (101). The cathedral represents a bond that is formed through the blind man’s ability to break through the husband’s prejudice. The husband learns a lot from Robert, the blind man, and he learns a lot from himself.
The husband had a preconceived notion about Robert because he had no experience around blind people. He admits that his knowledge of blindness came from watching movies. The husband found it hard to believe that Robert had a beard, that he could tell the difference between a color television and a black and white television, and that he had eyes that looked (even if they did not see) just like everyone else’s. The husband underestimates Robert because he has made a judgment about him based not on knowledge or experience but only on ignorance. He dismisses Robert not just because his wife is giving him so much attention, but because Robert is different. As the story goes on, the husband’s prejudice weakens, and he becomes more and more impressed with the extent of this blind man’s capabilities...
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...d. The cathedral is the means through which the husband and Robert bond, and the husband is gifted with his final revelation. In the end, the husband really is something when he sees through blind eyes.
Allen, Bruce. "MacArthur Award Winners Produce Two of the Season’s Best." Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol. 36. Ed. Daniel G. Marowski. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1986. 103.
Broyard, Anatole. "Diffuse Regrets." Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol. 36. Ed. Daniel G. Marowski. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1986. 100.
Carver, Raymond. "Cathedral." The Harper Anthology of Fiction Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991. 1052-62.
Johnson, Charles. "Writing That Will Be ‘Around for a Time’." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 55. Ed. Roger Marowski. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1989. 281.82.
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