The Most Effective Literary Element in “Cathedral” and Reasons for its Effectiveness
Raymond Carver uses the literary elements of characterization and point of view to make Cathedral an effective story. While Cathedral appears to just be a story about a visit between two old friends and the narrator, I see it as a journey between two men which shows the audience that it is possible to break personal barriers and stereotypes. Cathedral’s main characters are the narrator, his wife, and Robert the blind man, with the focus of the story on the relationships of the couple with Robert. While the wife is always found of Robert, Raymond Carver takes us through various scenarios of prejudice, jealously, and indifference involving the narrator and Robert.
In the very first paragraph of Cathedral you get the first look at the narrator’s distaste for the upcoming visit with the blind man, “A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to” (1156). On various occasions the narrator seems jealous of the relationship his wife and Robert share, starting on page 1156 when he explains that on his wife’s last day of work the blind man “…asked if he could touch her face. She agreed to this. She told me he touched his fingers to every part of her face, her nose – even her neck!” The narrator seems to be deeply concerned about Robert being so close with his wife but later in the story his wife’s thigh is exposed and while he covers it he realizes that Robert cannot see her “juicy thigh” (1162) so he uncovers it again without a care. While Robert and the narrator’s wife had physical contact the narrator doesn’t seem to realize the emotional effects this had on his wife, for to her, Robert really was “seeing” her for the first time but for the narrator it was just another man feeling up his wife. This naïve jealous attitude clouds the narrator’s views of through his first encounters with Robert. Instead of recognizing that his wife has told Robert about him...
Cited: Frank Madden. Exploring Literature Writing and Arguing About Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007.
Wikipedia. “Cathedral (story).” 3 October 2008: 1-3. 1 October 2008 http.//en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Cathedral_(story).
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