In the short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, Robert a blind man who is grieving the death of his wife comes to visit with an old friend and her husband, Bub. Bub, the main character in the story can see, however he sees nothing below the surface. The irony of the story is that Robert, despite being blind, can see much deeper than Bub. Robert helps Bub to see himself and his life through new eyes. As the three characters enjoy an evening together, they gain insight that dramatically changes them. I will be focusing on the theme of the story and the use of irony and symbolism.
The story takes place in Bubs home around the late 1970’s to early 1980’s when color television was just being introduced. The story is told in first person narrator with limited omniscient. We learn only of Bubs feelings and thoughts. Bub is the protagonist in this story, he undergoes a significant change. In the beginning of the story he is portrayed as a prejudice, shallow man who is jealous of his wife’s relationship with Robert. “And his being blind bothered me…A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.” (1076) Bubs ignorance to love and beauty is revealed when he talks about Robert’s wife and their marriage. “And then I found myself thinking what a pitiful life this woman must have led. Imagine a woman who could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loved one. A woman who could go on day after day and never receives the smallest compliment from her beloved.”(1078) “Her last thought maybe this: that he never even knew what she looked like,” (1078) Bub is jealous of his wife’s likeness to Robert. He can’t understand how his wife can have a better relationship with a blind man than him. “My wife finally took her eyes off the blind man and looked at me. I had the feeling she didn’t like what she saw.”(1079) “I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife’s sweet lips.”(1080) As the night progresses, Bub and Robert...
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