The Blind Leading the Blind
The Short Story “Cathedral” is a literary work written by Raymond Carver and told by a narrator who is apprehensive about a visit from his wife’s blind friend. The narrator’s wife has been touched by Robert, the blind visitor, and he helps the narrator sketch a “Cathedral” which symbolizes his wife and teaches the narrator how to see, esteem, and touch her. By and large, the presumably sighted narrator focuses on his guest’s blindness and outward appearance, but Carver illuminates this lodger’s extraordinary ability to touch the heart despite his disability, which demonstrates the theme of this story; “Looks may be deceiving.” The narrator’s wife was the first to experience Robert’s unlikely ability to touch. She answered an ad to assist him which read, “HELP WANTED –Reading to Blind Man” (1). She believed the blind man needed assistance, but she was really the one needing support. At the time, she was the depressed housewife of her childhood sweetheart, who was inattentive and apparently “blind” to her suicidal condition. Carver illustrates the wife’s cry for help in the advertisement that she answered to become employed by Robert. This sign also exemplifies the relationship this woman has with her current husband, the narrator, because after reading her poem, he is also mystified and unimpressed by her emotions. Conversely, Robert’s insight was exhibited by Carver who writes, “Robert felt every inch of her face and it impacted her so tremendously she attempted to describe the experience in a poem. Carver writes, “…they’d keep in touch, she and the blind man” (1). Looks are deceiving in this instance, because the wife of the narrator’s expression in the poem is drawn out and then ascertained solely by the man that is presumably blind. The theme of the story is also exhibited when Carver leads readers to believe the narrator and Robert have no connection, but the narrator is unexpectedly touched and enlightened by the visitor that...
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