Seeing Through Blind Eyes:
In a critical essay written by Diane Andrews Henningfeld, Henningfeld says that the short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly before Carver made it the title of his collection that bears the same name. The story has become one of the most frequently taught short stories of Carver’s body of work (Henningfeld). In the story, the closed-minded narrator meets his wife’s good friend, Robert, who happens to be blind. As the story progresses, the blind man teaches the narrator to see, in the sense that he teaches him to open his mind to things that cannot always be seen. The narrator has an epiphany in which he begins to think differently; he opens his eyes and begins to see for the first time. It is important for one to understand this because it is a main theme and message in “Cathedral” that could possibly be missed upon a first reading. “The meaning of the story is not explicitly put before the reader, but rather is often hidden in the gaps of a story” (Henningfeld). The narrator begins as an unhappy, insecure, and judgmental man with an impassionate relationship with his wife. He envies the relationships between his wife and Robert, which is such a sharp contrast to the narrator and his wife’s monotonous relationship that consists of drinking and watching T.V. to replace conversation. The narrator doesn’t understand the relationship between the blind man and his late wife because he doesn’t see how someone could be in love with an individual that they cannot see. “They’d married, lived and worked together- had sex, sure- and then the blind man had to bury here. All this without his having ever seen what the goddamned woman looked like. It was beyond my understanding” (Carver 84). The view of blind people that the narrator has initially is very stereotypical and narrow. Upon meeting the blind man, the narrator’s theories begin to deteriorate as the blind man proves him wrong. The central idea of the...
Cited: Carver, Raymond. “Cathedral.” Backpack Literature: an introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, and writing. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 80-93. Print.
Henningfeld, Diane Andrews. "Cathedral." Short Stories for Students. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
Runyon, Randolph Paul. "Cathedral." Reading Raymond Carver, Syracuse University Press (1992): 137-185. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism Select. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
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