Symbolism in “Cathedral”
In Raymond Carver’s short story, “Cathedral,” a man has his eyes opened up to the world through the aid of his wife’s blind friend, Robert. Carver employs the use of symbolism in the form art representing insight to highlight the narrator’s blindness to his life. The narrator is not physically blind, but he is oblivious to the problems he faces.
The tapes sent between the narrator’s wife and Robert were definitely a form of art. They were a medium through which they could communicate and share their feelings and stories with each other. Their continuous communication is what built the strong and lasting relationship that the wife and Robert had; A relationship stronger than that she had with her husband. “She hadn’t seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in touch.” They would communicate by sending recorded conversations on audiotapes to each other, a symbolic expression of their care for each other. They could have written letters perhaps in braille in place of the tapes, but that would not have been as intimate of an interaction. Sure on the surface, the tapes were just a method for the woman and the blind man to interface, but they meant much more than that. The tapes were a forum through which they shared their lives with each other. Robert knew who she was and just about everything about her without ever seeing her. He even knew her husband before he met him in person. Robert exclaims upon their first meeting that “I feel like we’ve already met,” and he had never spoken to him prior to this event.
Carver uses art in the form of poetry to represent insight. While working for Robert ten years ago, the narrator’s wife experienced one of her most intimate encounters with him. “On her last day in the office, the blind man asked if he could touch her face.” He may have been blind, but he then knew what she looked like, what she felt like. This inspired her to...
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