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Analysis of Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”

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Analysis of Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”

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  • August 31, 2013
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Analysis of Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”

In the short story “Cathedral” Raymond Carver chooses to use the narrative voice to tell of a simple event that occurs all the time in normal daily life, which is the visit of a family member’s old friend. By using colloquial language and ordinary daily scenes, Carver easily gets our attention and enables us to engage with the story and even to create the images that match with the story. By telling the story from the narrator’s point of view, Carver attempts to reveal the narrator’s personality clearly and consistently. We learn the narrator’s personality not only from the words and language the narrator uses, but also through the limited thoughts and feelings he is able to express. However, using the narrative voice may also provide Carver with some difficulty in presenting a believable and consistent personality. This essay will show the most obvious inconsistency, which seems to be an out of place occurrence of depth and feeling from the otherwise simple and insensitive narrator. At the start of the story, the narrator expresses his negative attitude to the blind man’s visit. “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I know. And his being blind bothered me” (126). The honest and simple comment gives us an image that we are sitting next to the narrator and hearing the narrator complaining openly, like when a close friend is the most honest when others aren’t around. Carver’s narrative voice strategy allows us to see the narrator’s honest and mostly negative thoughts. This negative attitude towards to the blind man sets up tension in the story, while revealing the personality. First, it makes us notice that narrator is a selfish husband because it seems he doesn’t care what the visitor means to his wife but only about how the visitor’s blindness bothers him or makes him feel uncomfortable. Second, we see the narrator has no sympathy for those with disabilities. Finally, his lack of interest in...