From the perceptions of an intelligent blind man in the short story “Cathedral”, the reader learns the difference between simply looking and truly seeing. The narrator, who is the husband, goes through life viewing all things in one dimension. Even though Robert lacks the physical ability to see, he has a great deal of insight when it comes to the wife and the world. The ability of Robert, a blind man, to see the wife in greater detail than the husband is a strong metaphor in which this story is based upon.
At one point in the story, Robert asks the husband if he is religious. The narrator replies, “I guess I don’t believe in it. In anything” (Carver 100). The narrator’s frame of mind is that if he cannot physically see something, then it does not exist. The narrator and his wife do not have an emotionally strong relationship. He only physically looks at his wife but does not see her as she truly is. The wife enjoys writing poems a few times a year after important events that occur in her life. The husband does not think much of these poems and does not try and understand them. He describes his wife’s past suicide attempt nonchalantly, even though this was a major event that happened in her life. Despite the fact that they are close friends, the narrator is irritated by his wife inviting Robert into their home.
The narrator stereotypes Robert from the beginning because of his blindness. The narrator reveals his ignorance towards people with disabilities by stating, “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 looked forward to” (Carver 92). This is a prime example of the husband judging someone based solely on his physical interpretation. The narrator also fails to understand how Robert and his deceased wife were capable of having a happy marriage.
Despite Robert’s inability to physically see his wife Beulah, they had a physically and emotionally intimate...
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