A Blind Man Leads the Way
“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, describes a couple who is awaiting the arrival of the wife’s blind friend, Robert. The husband is not too fond of a blind man staying in their house and is judgmental about meeting him. It’s not until the family sits down to watch t.v. that the husband gains respect for Robert. A show about cathedrals comes on, and Robert asks him to describe them to him. When Robert and the husband draw the cathedral together with their eyes closed, the husband begins to see what he could not describe with his eyes open. Carver uses the cathedral in the story as a symbol of sight, insisting that the narrator was blinded by prejudice before he met Robert and also as a symbol of teaching, Robert acting as a preacher in a church.
The husband is very judgmental and negative toward blind people. He states, “My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing eye dogs” (526). The husband views all blind people as the same and gives them the same respect, which is none. He brings them down to make himself feel better. “Carver’s figures close themselves off from their worlds, walling out the threatening forces in their lives even as they wall themselves in and retreat destructively into the claustrophobic inner enclosures of self” (Davis). When the narrator meets Robert and they all sit down for dinner, his opinion about Robert begins to change. He says, “The blind man had right away located his foods, he knew just where everything was on his plate” (531). The husband was in shock that Robert did not need someone to cut up his food and help him eat his meals. He begins to see and appreciate Robert as a person and not just as a blind man. His sight is in full affect when he begins describing the cathedral from the t.v. show. The narrator could see the cathedral, but he could not quite describe what he saw. He and the blind man began to...
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