An Analysis of Cathedral
Cathedral, written by Raymond Carver, is a short story that explores the narrator’s insecurities and fears of what he does not understand and through the progression of the story is enlightened by the man he fears. The short story Cathedral is a story of the narrators’ wife’s old friend coming to visit. The friend, Robert, is a man that she knew ten years before and has kept in contact with since. The two correspond via tape recordings on a regular basis. The wife tells Robert of all goings on in her life and Robert responds in kind. Robert’s wife has died and he will be close enough to come and visit his old friend. Cathedral is written in the first person and is narrated by the husband character. The other characters are the aforementioned wife of the narrator, and Robert the blind man. The initial tone of the story is set in the opening line of the story, Carver (1983) writes “This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on the way to spend the night.” There is an obvious disdain in the tone of the narrator. The narrator goes on to say about Robert “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me” (Carver, R, 1983). According to Clugston (2010) “A short story should contain a plot with a conflict driven tied together actions and events.” Throughout Cathedral there are two defined conflicts. The first is the character versus character conflict between the narrator and Robert. As previously noted, the narrator is uncomfortable with Roberts’s blindness. He is also aware of the relationship his wife has had with the man, which makes him more uncomfortable. The second conflict is character versus self. The narrator is insecure in his relationship with his wife. He is uncommunicative and unresponsive to her attempts to share with him. The wife has tried to share her poetry and recorded conversations with Robert in which they spoke of the narrator, but the narrator shows...
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