A thoughtful response to Raymond Carver's "Cathedral"

Topics: Blindness, Stereotype, Human Pages: 2 (438 words) Published: February 5, 2005
The story "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver is about one man's understanding and acceptance of a blind man. The narrator represents the story's dominant theme of overcoming prejudice of the blind through personal experience as well as mutual respect. The narrator, who remains nameless, holds deeply unfounded beliefs and stereotypes of what a blind person should be, yet over a relatively short period of time he develops a bond with the blind man, whom at first he privately mocked.

The narrator's preconceived notions about blind people are proved false when he meets the blind man (Robert) for the first time. The narrator is not looking forward to having a blind man stay at his home. "Now this same blind man was coming to sleep in my house" (230). Yet once Robert arrives at his home he is shocked that he does not conform to his idea of the blind. "But he didn't use a cane and he didn't wear dark glasses. I'd always thought dark glasses were a must for the blind" (232).

At supper the narrator begins to see Robert as a capable human being rather than a burden and he remarks that he watched with admiration as Robert used his knife and fork on the meat. "He'd cut two pieces of meat, fork the meat into his mouth, and then go all out for the scalloped potatoes, the beans next, and then he'd tear off a hunk of buttered bread and eat that" (233). Suddenly the narrator no longer has much to base his prejudices on.

The narrator's understanding of Robert is enhanced when Robert agrees to smoke dope with the narrator despite never trying it before. This brings the narrator and Robert closer together as they share a moment like old friends. Now the narrator is beginning to see Robert not only as a blind man but also as a human being and possibly as a friend.

After the narrator's failure to describe the cathedral on TV, Robert asks the narrator to draw the cathedral with him. "I got an idea. Why don't you find us some heavy paper? And a pen. We'll do something. We'll draw...
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