Irony in the Short Story "Cathedral"

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Rachel Corey
2/7/13
DeStefano
EN 12
The Blind Leading the Blind
Blindness is an affliction that causes a person to possess the inability to see or to have the sense of sight. In the short story “Cathedral”, we meet an average, suburban husband and his wife, who have a troubled marriage. The husband is less than thrilled to meet his wife’s blind friend, Robert, who she has been exchanging tapes with for the past ten years. We feel sympathetic towards Robert because of his handicap, but as the story continues, it is in fact the narrator who should be pitied because he has trouble seeing the world on a deeper level. Ironically, Robert, the blind man, causes the narrator to realize this through having him draw a picture of a cathedral with his eyes closed. In that moment, the narrator has an epiphany and realizes that even with his perfect sight, he was unable to see the world in a deeper fashion.

In the beginning of the story we meet an average husband, stuck in a rut in his marriage with his wife. The first thing the reader finds out is that the wife’s blind friend, Robert is coming to visit. His wife had recently passed away due to illness. The narrator is judgmental and a little ignorant. When he first hears the news he says “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies” (par. 1). He is associating Robert with the stereotypical blind man who he pictured wearing dark sunglasses and holding a seeing-eye dog.

Not only is the narrator ignorant in the sense of having a lack of knowledge about the blind but also he is ignorant of the fact that he has a troubled relationship with his wife. Mutual feelings might exist between the two however, the narrator fails to relate with her on an emotional level. Something important to his wife was writing poetry. After an important event took place, she would write a poem. One particular event was when Robert...
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