Relationships in Cathedral and The Story of an Hour
Relationships are easy to make, but not necessarily easy to maintain. There are many
events in a person’s individual life that has an impact on the way they treat or interact with
another person. In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”
there are significant similarities and differences between the three couples. Given the time period
that these stories were written there are many more similarities than differences.
One of the most prominent similarities between the couples in “Cathedral” and “The
Story of an Hour” is the emotional distance between the spouses. What creates this emotional
distance is the lack of communication; it is the common factor in each relationship. With Brently
and Louise, and the wife and the military man it is the women who are being held captive in their
own life. Louise who had been living a life for her husband, not for herself “seems to live a
psychologically torpid and anemic life” (Jamil, 215). Louise is nonetheless “generally apathetic
toward life” (Jamil, 216). Mrs. Mallard is not getting what she needs out of life and is not happy
which puts a strain on her marriage, but she can see no end in sight. That is why, when she finds
out about her husband’s death, after giving into her initial emotions and breaking down, she
reflects on what is to come in her life and is pleasantly surprised. Mrs. Mallard realizes she is at
once “free, free, free!” as she states it so quietly to herself (Chopin, 1), free of her “husband’s
powerful will to smother and silence her own will” (Jamil, 216).
Like Louise and Brently, the wife and her ex-husband had the same distance between
them. The wife was not dealing with being a military wife well. Kevin Keane’s analysis
“Perceiving the Other in Raymond Carver’s ‘Cathedral’” states, “She tried to take some action
about her loneliness whereas the husband only tries to block it out of his mind” (75). The wife
tried to escape the only way she knew how, and attempted suicide. Her husband simply carried
on with life and ignored his wife’s lonliness. Louise and the wife were forced to keep their
deepest emotions, thoughts and regrets to themselves and let it build up inside over the years.
After getting better, the wife leaves the military man and she marries the narrator and they seem
quite happy, or at least happier than she was with the Air-Force man.
The narrator distances himself from his wife and others similar to the distances in the
other marriages, although not as significant. The narrator refers to the blind man as “this blind
man” (Carver, 1) and in the context of the sentence, “this” indicates a specific, definite person
but also shows the distance between the narrator and the blind man. When the narrator refers to
the blind man like that, and instead of seeing him as a possible friend to himself, continually
referring to him as “a friend of my wife’s” (Carver, 1), he furthers the distance between him, his
wife and the blind man. Keane notes that “the protagonist is, metaphorically speaking,
handicapped even when he speaks inasmuch as he cannot communicate with other people” (71).
The narrator should show interest in what his wife is interested in, and he should be thinking of
the blind man as a to-be friend of his own. “His handicap (communication) even extends to his
mind-he is incapable of finding joy in life or expressing any sense of love or friendship until the
end of the story” (Keane 72). The narrator’s wife says “You don’t have any friends.
Period” (Carver, 2) to the narrator when he was protesting the blind man’s arrival. At the end of
the story he is able to interact and communicate with the blind man and has a general sense of
friendship. The new awakening of communication could possibly benefit not...
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