Cathedral: the Blind and Robert

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Mike Wilcox
Eng. 113 12-1250
Mr. Canipe
28 November 2007

Blindness is considered a disability. The person with a disability in Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” is Bub. A person can be handicapped mentally. Bub is self-centered, and lives inside his own world. He is “blind” to the world around him and does not wish to open his mind to anything outside of his ignorant, pathetic, mundane life. Robert opens Bub’s mind, enabling Bub to see Robert as a person first, and not a blind man. Robert is an old friend of Bub’s wife. Bub is jealous of his wife and Robert’s relationship, as well as her first husband. She worked for Robert during a summer. She read case studies and reports to him, and helped him organize his office. Robert’s wife Beulah had died. After visiting Beulah’s relatives, Robert arrived by train to visit Bub’s wife. She hadn’t seen him since the summer she worked for him 10 years ago. They had kept in touch by recording tapes and sending them to each other. Robert and Bub’s wife had more than an employer-employee relationship. They were, at a minimum, close friends. Bub’s wife looked at the relationship with Robert differently than Robert did. She had more of intimate feelings than he had. She wrote a poem to Robert that she shared with Bub. In it “she recalled his fingers and the way they had moved around over her face.” “She talked about what she had felt at the time, about what went through her mind when the blind man touched her nose and lips.” (Kennedy 99) For Robert, that is how he communicates. Because he cannot see, his sense of feeling is greater than someone who can see. He knew what Bub’s wife looks likes through touching her. When Bub’s wife married her first husband, she moved to Alabama. On the tapes, she told Robert how moving a lot was hard for her, and at one point, she tried killing herself by overdosing on pills. Mark A.R. Facknitz summed Bub up best: [Bub’s] view of her suffering is flat and without compassion. Suicide is mundane, for him merely a question of balking at life, and dying is roughly the equivalent to throwing up, something one might do instead, much as [Bub] stays up nights dunk and stoned in front of the television as an antidote to the “crazy” dreams that trouble his sleep. He is numb and isolated, a modern man for whom integration with the human race would be so difficult that it is futile. Consequently he hides by failing to try, anesthetizes himself with booze, and explains away the world with sarcasm. (293-294) She told Robert that she got divorced. When she met Bub, Robert knew everything about him, and their relationship. She told him everything about her life, and sent him poems that she had written; about life, and about Bub. Bub’s wife went to the train depot to pick Robert up. Bub waited at home while his wife picks Robert up. When Robert and Bub’s wife arrived back, she was laughing as she got out of the car. Bub tried making small talk with Robert but did not really know what to say. He made a glass of scotch for each of them. They sat in the living room and talked about Robert’s trip. At the dinner table, Bub admired Robert’s ability to use a knife and fork with such precision. That is the first positive comment written about Bub. After dinner, they went back to the living room; drank some more Scotch. Unlike Bub, Robert had no problems making friends. He had friends in several countries; his disability didn’t stop him from living life, opposite of Bub. Bub’s wife confirms this when Bub says “I don’t have any blind friends”, she replies, “You don’t have any friends.” (101) Robert is more confident and positive in every facet of life. As soon as he arrives at Bubs house, he starts making small talk, wanting to get to know Bub. He is self-sufficient and does not want to be waited on by Bub’s wife having to take his bag upstairs for him. The most profound difference is that Robert takes chances, lives and enjoys life, and isn’t afraid to try new things. He...
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