The Cathedral by Raymond Carver

Published 17 Feb 2017

Raymond Carver is a writer who had been an author in which did not have a regular story compared to other writers. He had often placed very different characters in the same story and creates twists for the readers to reflect and analyzes (Rebein, 22-25). In the story cathedral, he does the same thing strategy and makes his readers connect the dots with the lesson he wants them to learn. The story “Cathedral” written by Raymond Carver is not like any typical literature which could be found anywhere. The story is also not a regular tale which could be found any where else due to the shifting of the story, the characters and the theme of the story. It is not often that a literature is pertaining about a religion or belief of any individuals (Parks, 723).

With the story of the Cathedral, the narrator of the story had been very puzzled with different kinds of actions of the blind man—Robert. Like what the narrator had said in the story, he had never encountered any blind person in his life. It was only in the movies that he was able to experience and learn about the basics of being blind. But then, he was clear that this is not enough in order for him to realize the real situation of a blind person. In the continuing story of the cathedral, it was kind of unlikely that the narrator’s wife had kept a deep relationship with a blind man. For a normal person, being close to a blind person is mostly irregular. First, blind persons are not as expressive and as friendly as Robert. Most of them are quiet for the reason that they are trying to feel the aura of the place—if they are not familiar with it. Blind individuals are usually feeling the person that they are with. Usually, they try to sense the person whether he or she is good or bad. On the other hand, Robert was nothing like others; he was very friendly and has a positive approach towards different kinds of things. Through the writing of the author, it could be felt that Robert is not close to a personality of a blind man.

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It was stated that the narrator did not have any clue to what type of person the blind man was. However, he does know that her wife was closely related to him before he even came to their house. As obviously as it seems, the husband was did not think that having the blind man come to their house was something positive for him. He admittedly said that he did not feel good about it due to the past relationship which had taken place with the blind man and his wife. But still, he did not condone the desire of his wife to accept the blind man in their home. Even before the blind man came to their home, the husband have already clarified that he did not see the positive outcome of this visit. Like a typical man who is not open to new things and changes, he did not open the possibility that there was something different with the blind man. The narrator already assumed that the blind man was only someone who was helpless and is so needy that he needed someone to be there for him. In addition, his wife had highlighted to him that the blind man had just lost his wife which meant that he was lonely. But then the story gave a different twist to the character of the blind man.

In the course of the story the narrator’s wife was described to have a close relation with Robert. As noted, she was clutching the blind man on his arm while they were walking. There was also a time in which the wife went out of the car having a big smile on her face in which the husband find very unusual. In the story, the wife did not express any happiness until Robert came to their home. Normally, the woman was having a small talk with her husband but it did not seem as if they had a deep connection unlike she and Robert has. It was also stated that Robert and the wife had a close relationship due to the tapes which they had been recording to one another in order to stay in touch with one another.

After the time Robert came into their house, the narrator tried to fit in the friendship of his wife and the blind man. He was trying not to be left out of the conversation they were having. The narrator continuously spurs different thoughts while both of them laughed and mingle with one another (Bullock, 344). In one way or the other, it really seemed that the narrator had become jealous of the action and devotion of his wife to the man whom she had never seen for a decade (Facknitz 290). In some points of the story, the narrator was trying to wait for his name to come out to the mouth of his wife. But then, his wife never mentioned his name but only pertains to him as her husband. Whenever the wife was looking at him it was a look due to irritation or disappointment. There was no loving feeling or a feeling that she adores her husband. Instead it was only a feeling that she wants her husband to disappear and leave them alone while both of them have fun. The adoration was all focused on a man who she had worked for only a few months while the person she have chosen to marry had become some kind of a stranger to her.

The connection with the wife and the narrator seemed rocky which could be translated that they usually have misunderstandings. While on the other hand, the wife and Robert had a different relationship—a closeness which seems could never be leveled to the relationship of the husband and the wife. The closeness of Robert and the wife could be concluded that they had an intimate relationship in the past. Due to the lines which stated that: “at the end of the summer she let the blind man run his hands over her face, said good-bye to him.”(Carver 163). In addition, it seems like the wife and the husband have conflict to their beliefs and their relationships which each other. Therefore, making the assumption that the jealously was really the emotion in which the husband felt while being with them.

In the side of religion and beliefs, the author had closely highlighted that the couple does not have any type of faith that they hold on to. The husband simply stated that he did not have any belief in which he focuses on. At some point, it could be assumed that this is the problem of the couple. No one of them believed anything or did not believe in the same things. Another proof is that when the time the couple was still dating, the husband was not paying attention to the interest of his wife. It was already a sign in which the couple’s interest was not linked to each other, making them separated and disconnected. Therefore the relationship of the couple is very dry and unhappy. It could be seen, that the woman tried to find someone who she could connect with in which she found with his long time friend Robert. The blind man evidently makes the wife of the narrator very enthusiastic of the things that interest him. The little actions in which the blind was doing was something very special for the wife while the husband’s acts were not given as much attention by the woman in the story. While reading the story, it could immediately felt that the couple did not have much passion with one another. Maybe they had but then the sparks had now been totally lost.

Although the couple clearly had the means to all they need, they did seem dissatisfied with one another. At some point, the husband stated that there was never a time in which both of them slept at the same time. It was usually the woman who sleeps first and he only follows when he is really tired and sleepy. In every happy relationship, one of the most intimate parts of their daily lives is being together in bed sleeping beside each other. Given that they do not share such thing, it could be easily assumed that they have an unhappy relationship. Not only unhappy but unsatisfied with their state within the couple’s relationship and immediately seen that there is a problem between them (Bosha 149-151).

In conclusion, the whole story which is written by Raymond Carver is something that every one must read—most especially those people who are in need to enlightenment. Robert was seen in the story as someone who had just came out of no where and suddenly became their visitor. He was a friend of the narrator’s wife but then, the husband has no idea about him until he came to their home. The blind man could be easily seen as someone who had separated the couple for quite a while because the wife became fond of Robert instead of her husband. He became one of the huge obstacles for the couple to overcome but in the long run, the blind man was able to make the narrator realize that there is really more to life than the normal life that every person is taking. Most of the time, normal individuals only see what their eyes are seeing. Human beings become distracted by the material things and the physical things they see that it becomes a problem for them. The physical world becomes a mask of something that is really basic. Blind people experience such things all the time, having seen movies which had blind characters in them it is often that they are the ones very positive in life. They were the ones who had the wisdom about every thing while the individual who is perfectly fine had more problems and hassles in their life (Bosha 150).

Another problem that could be seen in the story is the concern regarding making life very complicated for one another. In the story, it is often seen that the wife and the husband mostly worry about themselves. The wife often stresses herself that she needed to take care of Robert and help him figure his way around. The husband on the other hand was insecure of himself that he keeps on telling Robert that he was not good in describing things. Robert on the other side was very calm—trying state that he was generally alright. Most people do not realize that worrying too much had become something that controls us which leads us to not appreciating the basic things in life and also hinders us from being ourselves (Carver 170).

During the end part of the story, it had been very obvious that the narrator was being insecure towards his abilities. Provided that maybe he was not really a person who had a descriptive skill but Robert taught him that it is never too late to learn and discover new things and learn that he has the ability to do other things and conquer his fears. In the end, fear (Carver 169), insecurity and jealously had been the major problems of the couple. With the help of a long time friend of her wife, the visit had not only become a typical weekend but a learning experience for all of them (Schnapp, 169).

Work Cited

  • Bosha, Francis J. “Raymond Carver, Cathedral.” Thought Currents in English Literature 57 (1984): 149-151.
  • Bullock, Chris. “From Castle to Cathedral: The Architecture of Masculinity in Raymond Carver’s ‘Cathedral’.” Journal of Men’s Studies. 2.4 (2000): 343-348. Proquest Research Library. Sacramento City Coll. Lib., Sacramento, CA. 02 Dec. 2006.
  • Carver, Raymond. “Cathedral.” Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary. 5th ed. Ed. Charles Bohner and Lyman Grant. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2002. 163-172.
  • Facknitz, Mark A. R. “‘The Calm,’ ‘A Small Good Thing,’ and ‘Cathedral’: Raymond Carver and the Rediscovery of Worth.” Studies in Short Fiction. 23.3 (1986): 287-296. Literature Resource
  • Parks, John G. “American Short Stories Since 1945.” New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Schnapp, Patricia. “A Review of Cathedral.” Western American Literature 20.2 (1985): 168-169.
  • Rebein, Robert. “Hicks, Tribes, & Dirty Realists.” United States of America: University Press of Kentucky, 2001
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