Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” vs. Tess Gallagher’s “Rain Flooding Your Campfire”

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Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” and Tess Gallagher’s “Rain Flooding your Campfire” are good examples of intertextual dialogue between two writers. These two stories show us how two writers can grow and develop short stories differently from the same experience. There are similarities between the stories, such as the use of a first person narrator, the plot, setting, and also there is an interchange between the narrator and the blind man in both stories. But within these similarities there are also differences; the narrators are two different people with two very different views on the situation, and although there is an interchange between the characters they are two different types with two different messages. Gallagher’s story is a touching retelling of her visit with a friend from her past while Carver’s version of this encounter has a more generalizable and important meaning which expresses a larger cultural concern of prejudice against different people.

Both stories have a first person narrator, but they are different people. The husband is the narrator in Carver’s story while the wife is the narrator in Gallagher’s version. The narrator in “Cathedral” makes his ill feeling towards the blind man made quite obvious to the reader by saying “his being blind bothered me” (Carver pg. 20) and “A blind man in my house was not something I was looking forward to” (pg. 21). The narrator had never known a blind person before, and his “idea of blindness came from the movies” (pg. 20), where they are normally portrayed as weak, slow and a burden. So the narrator’s views of a blind person are how society and the media has depicted them, and so this is how most people who haven’t met a blind person would think of them. But as the story goes on the narrator finds himself to be quite comfortable with this man and in the end they draw a picture together. This is evident when the narrator says “His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper” (pg. 30)....