top-rated free essay

Raymond Carver

By sherbear Aug 03, 2008 1733 Words
Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver is an award winning short story writer and poet. Carver’s famous writing career started with publishing a collection of poems. During his career as a writer he also published some famous short stories which helped define Carver as a minimalist writer. A minimalist writer makes “do with less, the literary equivalent of functionalist architecture. It offers an art of elimination, an effort one can associate with creating boundaries around private pain and avoiding public high mindedness” (SJC-46) said Paul Skenazy. Raymond Carver’s did not like that he was associated with the term “minimalist” he felt that the term “smacks of smallness of vision and execution” (SJC-3). In a few of his famous works like the “Cathedral”, “A Small Good Thing”, and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” one can see many striking parallels within the three amazing short stories. The major similarities are the development of the characters and the interpersonal relationships between them. The use of alcohol within the story and the symbolism that the alcohol brought to the stories. The tragedy of death throughout the main ideas of the story. Finally, the powerful endings that each story has that leaves the reader amazed by his literary style of writing. First, Raymond Carver’s unique style of writing uses characters that “work for a living” (SJC-48) said Arthur Saltzman. His characters have an intense interpersonal relationship and are intertwined in emotional conflict. In the short story “Cathedral” which is about the interpersonal relationships between three people. At first the narrator or husband is not happy about the blind man visiting his him. Also, he is not happy about the relationship between the houseguest Robert and his wife. During this short story a reader can see how the husband grows through the visit and develops a friendship with the blind man and helps him deal with his loneliness, isolation and lack of communication. The three main characters in this short story the husband, wife, and Robert the visiting blind man, each character has a unique characteristic. The husband is insecure about the relationship between his wife and Robert. Also, he his insensitive because he stated “A blind man in my house was not something I was looking forward to” (SJC-4). The husband was out of touch because what he knew about the blind came from movies. The wife was a kind, sensitive person who had a close lasting friendship with Robert. She is a giving, kind person and happy to have a visitor. This is noticeable several times in the story from the wonderful dinner and dessert she served to making sure he felt at home and he knew his bed was ready once he was ready to go to bed for the night. “Robert is the hero of the story a man how had not let his blindness impair his quality of life” (2). Robert is an open minded, laid back character who brings a unique perspective to the story. He has the husband draw a Cathedral with him. “This was the powerful ending of the story when Robert said “So we kept up with it. His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was like nothing else in my life up till now” (SJC-15). Ultimately the story ends with a powerful meaning of hope and the narrator finds himself connecting with himself and with other human beings. This occurred because once he started drawing the Cathedral it opened up communication and human connections. In “A Small Good Thing” the story parallels to carvers other works because of the interpersonal relationships also deals with a real life hardship. In this story the husband and wife are faced with the accidental death of their eight year old son. The overwhelming grief the parents face and the unexpected relationship with the baker who was baking a birthday cake for Scotty their son is an emotional insight into human passion. In this short story the main characters each have a unique perspective on the hardship that is given to them. The baker is a man who works for long days to make a living. In this story the reader sees the baker at first as a cold unfriendly type. As the story progresses the reader finds themselves disliking the baker because of his harassing phone calls to the family because they did not pick up the child’s birthday cake. The mother of the child Ann is an individual who is loving, kind, and friendly, and caring to people. Her genuine personality is prevalent through the entire short story. The father’s character Howard who is an educated business man who has a relatively good life up until now, and a good provider to his family. The three individual’s deal with their own personal hardships, the unexpected death of Scotty and the baker’s loneliness. The end of the story exhibits strong similarities to the other two Carver short stories. The powerful ending reminds the reader of the importance of relationships. Also, the powerful closing leaves the reader with hope, and the insight of the power of forgiveness. Also, in the short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is a short story about four people sitting around a table sharing a bottle of gin and talking about relationships and love. During this conversation one of the characters Terri started talking about an abusive relationship she was in and stated in was done out of love. As shown when Terri said “The man she lived with before she lived with Mel loved her so much he tried to hill her” (SJC-34). This boyfriend of Terri’s eventually committed suicide. The couples at the table continue to speak on relationships. Mel brings up an elderly couple that was brought into the hospital and the type of love they had for each other. The four characters, Terri, Mel, Nick, and Laura are in different stages of their relationships. Mel and Terri have been together longer and they are more critical of each other. While Nick and Laura are in a earlier stage of love and are more affectionate and loving towards each other. The characters interpersonal relationships and their past experience affect their views on love and what the true meaning is. Once again Carver using his powerful writing style to reveal interpersonal relationships and the effect that communication has on a relationship. In this story the thought of true love and the love each couple has is revealed. Carver’s unique style of closing is once again apparent when he wrote “I could hear my heart beating. I could hear every ones heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark” (SJC-43). The similarity in all three short stories and the closing lines leaves the reader thinking about communication and interpersonal relationships and the importance they have on love, forgiveness, understanding, and growing within yourself. The use of alcohol is another similarity in these three short stories. In all three short stories alcohol was mentioned. In the “Cathedral” the husband and Robert drank and in “A Small Good Thing” the father drank. Finally in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” the four main characters where sitting around the table drinking gin. The use of alcohol was the same in all three short stories. The alcohol was used to help cope with a situation or dull the emotion they were dealing with. The use of alcohol in Carver’s short stories could have been from Carver’s over use of alcohol in his own life. Carver felt that “life was too hard to endure without it. Alcohol softens the edges as it buoys the spirit” (3). This feeling about alcohol was evident in his short stories. Another similarity in these short stories was the use of death. In the “Cathedral” Robert had just lost his wife Beulah to cancer. In the story “A Small Good Thing” the eight year old boy Scotty died from being hit by a car. Finally in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” Terri’s ex boyfriend committed suicide. All of these stories spoke of death of a loved one. “In many of Carver’s short stories, issues of loss and alcoholism are a part of the larger issue, which is the isolation and terror of people when a total breakdown of survival systems at hard… Carver characters demonstrate that people living marginal, routine lives can come close to experiencing insight and epiphany under pressure of intruding mysteries, such as the death of a loved one” (4). In conclusion, the famous works of Raymond Carver shows many striking parallels within these three amazing short stories. Carver’s unique minimalist style of writing features interpersonal relationships, the importance of communication or what happens in the presence of lack of communication. The use of alcohol and the death of a loved one. Carver’s endings to all three short stories leave the reader in a state of awe and makes one think about how the story effects their lives. Carver makes the stories so believable so the reader can truly relate to them. As Arthur Saltzman said, “The tantalizing fragility of Carver’s works is not due to a week- willed abandonment of amplitude and depth, as some of his detractors suggest; rather, it results from his uncanny talent for catching lives at the moment they have begun to fray” (SJC-48).

Works Cited
1. Kennedy, X.J., and Dana Gioia. Literature an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ninth ed. New York: Pearson Education, 2005. Carver, Raymond. A Small Good Thing. 16-33.
Carver, Raymond. Cathedral. 4-15.
Carver, Raymond. Raymond Carver. 3
Carver, Raymond. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. 34-43. Saltzman, Arthur. Carver’s Characterization. 48
Skenazy, Paul. Carver and Minimalism. 46.
2. Esch., J. "Notes on Raymond Carver’S “Cathedral”." 14 Feb. 2008. 5 July 2008 <>. 3. "Raymond Carver (1938-1988)." 5 July 2008 <>. 4. Jones, Paul. "Raymond Carver (1938-1988)." 6 July 2008 <>.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • The Cathedral by Raymond Carver

    ...CATHEDRAL by Raymond Carver Raymond Carver, the author of Cathedral was born in Oregon in 1938. He came from a poor family. At the age of 40 he was one of the most promising writers of his generation and was also near ruin in everyway from alcoholism. He quit drinking but lung cancer took over- taking his life at the age of 50. He wrote 3 col...

    Read More
  • Cathedral (by Raymond Carver)

    ...Cathedral: A Lesson for the Ages Raymond Carver's short story, "Cathedral," portrays a story in which many in today's society can relate. We are introduced from the first sentence of the story to a man that seems to be perturbed and agitated. As readers, we are initially unsure to the reasoning's behind the man's discomfort. The man, who see...

    Read More
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver

    ...“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver This minimalistic story is written by the famous author, Raymond Carver. Carver was born in 1938 in the small town of Clatskanie, Oregon, to an alcoholic father who worked at a sawmill and his mother who worked as a waitress. After graduating from high school, Carver and his family moved to California, where...

    Read More
  • Raymond Carver as Minimalist

    ...Raymond Carver’s fingerprints Every writer has a different way of presenting his/her ideas to readers, and that’s what makes each of them so distinctive. A famous late 20th century American short story writer and poet, Raymond Carver, has often been described by critics as a minimalist. According to an Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary...

    Read More
  • Raymond Carver "Cathedral"

    ...Ryan Collins ENG 102 Section N02 February 10, 2014 An Interpretation of Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” tells the story in first person narration, of a man that at first when confronted with the notion of his wife’s blind friend Robert visiting them at their home, is hung up on the fact that he is b...

    Read More
  • Carvers Cathedral

    ...The Blind leading the Blind In Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” a blind man (Robert) opens the eyes of the narrator that is blinded by ignorance. In the beginning of the story the narrator points out numerous faults of the other characters. This would lead the reader to believe that the narrator has it all together. It is soon discovered that...

    Read More
  • The Cathedral- Raymond Carver (Effect on Narrator)

    ...Cathedral” is a short story written in 1963 by Raymond Carver. “The Cathedral” includes three characters: the narrator, the narrator’s wife, and a blind friend of the wife’s, Robert. Robert has an effect on the narrator from the very beginning but the effect changes as the story develops. At the beginning of the story, the narrator is ...

    Read More
  • Carver

    ...Raymond Carver Michael Tache English 210-12 April 28, 2011 Raymond Clevie Carver, Jr. was born on May 25, 1938 and died on August 2, 1988. Carver was an American short story writer and poet. Carver is considered a major American writer of the late 20th century and also a major force in the revitalization of the short story in the 1980s. Ca...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.