Cathedral

Topics: Blindness, Fear, Stereotype Pages: 3 (869 words) Published: January 30, 2014

Cathedral
Thematic Analysis

The story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver contains a message that is as relevant to 21st century readers as it was to readers when it was published in 1981. “Cathedral” presents us with a man (the narrator) who overcomes his fear of the unknown to grow and develop a new found understanding and acceptance of difference. The narrator of the story holds unsupported beliefs and stereotypes of what a blind person should be, and through his interaction with a blind man those beliefs and stereotypes fade away. He displays a classic fear of the unknown, a well-known human trait, but overcomes this fear to please his wife. Discrimination and prejudices have been around since the beginning of time, and the theme of fear and prejudice is (and should be) always current despite old-fashioned phrasing and references in the story. In addition, many of the references to possessions and activities that occur in the story relate to what people have and do today but have been upgraded in our time in accordance with growing technology. As ignorant people usually do, the narrator has created preconceptions about the unknown. Carver shows how a blind man, Robert, adapts to the literal role of blindness, whereas the narrator is internally blind because of his lack of motivation on his own to seek and accept people who are different. In fact, although he does not appear to have previously met a blind person, he states “his being blind bothered me” and “A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to” (p.123); he is afraid. In the case of the narrator, it takes pressure from his wife, who is old friends with Robert, to get him to make the effort. It seems that his fear of the unknown may even have brought out latent prejudices against people of color and others, which clearly surprises his wife who does not appear to have fully understood this about him. Maybe even more so today than in 1981, the message of overcoming intolerance in...
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