A Blind Man Makes Him See

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“Cathedral” (28) is Raymond Carver’s short story about the anticipation and fulfillment of one man’s encounter with his wife’s blind friend. The man, who is also the narrator, is wary of this rendezvous, having known no blind people in his own life up to that point. His ignorance is apparent as he thinks of blind people only from a cinematic perspective. He tells us “My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies the blind moved slowly and never laughed” (28). From his cynical and insecure tone, we can tell that the main character is a complacent man full of self-doubt with an inability to think outside of world that he knows. The narration, however, changes unexpectedly after the blind man has been at their home for the evening. He undergoes an epiphany as the blind man opens our narrator’s eyes to an existence he did not know was possible. The main character’s insecurity is underscored by his inability to acknowledge the significance of another man in his wife’s life, whether an ex-husband or simply an old friend. This is exemplified by the fact that he avoids mentioning the name of his wife’s ex-husband. While this may seem like a negligible factor, it would not be so important if the narrator did not make it aware that this omission of detail was entirely and defiantly intentional. He harps “Her officer—why should he have a name? He was the childhood sweetheart, and what more does he want?”(29). Additionally, during the visit he morosely sits and watches his wife and Robert, the blind man, converse hoping to hear her mention his name. “I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife’s sweet lips: “And then my dear husband came into my life” –something like that. But I heard nothing of the sort. More talk of Robert” (32). When the conversation does turn toward him, he at first cannot engage due to these insecurities and discomfort with the blind man. “From time to time, he’d turn his face toward me, put his hand under his beard,...
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