Raymond Carver utilizes his character of the husband, who is also the narrator, in his short story "Cathedral." From the beginning of the story the narrator has a negative personality. He lacks compassion, has a narrow mind, is detached emotionally from others, and is jealous of his wife's friendship with a blind man named Robert. The major theme in Cathedral is learning to accept others differences which can be seen throughout the whole story as you watch the main character transform into a well rounded character by being able to accept Robert for the way he is; being blind. A blind man named Robert is coming to have dinner and stay overnight.
“Cathedral” is a story of man, the narrator, who experiences a life changing epiphany in an unexpected manner. The narrator is first introduced to the reader as an insensitive and ignorant man, and he reveals these characteristics in many ways throughout the majority of the story. However, interaction with a blind man not only exploits the narrator's character flaws, but is ultimately the catalyst for his metamorphosis. The narrator's insensitivity reveals itself early in the story when his wife's blind friend, Robert, comes for a visit after the death of his wife. Almost immediately in the beginning of the story the narrator admits "A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to."
Robert, the blind friend of Carver’s wife, adopts the literal role of blindness whereas the figurative role of blindness is assumed by the narrator because of his inability to seek and accept people who are different. Literal blindness is considered by most as a major set back for a normal life and a burden for those around them who must acquire a large amount of patience and compassion. Robert, however, seems to have accepted his abnormality. He jokes about his having two different types of televisions and states “but if I turn the TV on, and I’m always turning it on, I turn on the color set. It’s funny, don’t you think?”(727).
This limits the understanding of the novel. We are left with no choice to believe what Holden says is true. Holden often gives a cynical description of the world around him and labels many with the exception of a few a “phony.” After reading the novel one can see that Holden struggles to cross the barrier into the adult world. He is scared of his destiny and struggles in finding happiness, peace, or just simply an antidote to ease his pain. This causes Holden to repress the truth from the readers.
At the beginning of the story, the narrator sits on several assumptions regarding the blind man. He views him as someone who is lacking a significant part of life (vision), and therefore will have a certain set of attributes. The narrator even views his love life as being empty and without meaning, due to the fact that he could not gaze upon his wife. What is occurring here is the first portion of this theorized meaning within the story; the lack of awareness of another person’s perspective. The sharp, quick presumptions humans make on those that they do not understand usually fall on faulty and baseless beliefs.
In Fight Club the narrator tells us about his life and all the material aspects of it that he enjoys. However, as he speaks of the things he enjoys he seems lifeless and depressed. In Althusser’s theoretical reading he points out that if we admit we are not okay with our socially accepted life we are admitting that our idea of a good life is imaginary and that we do not know that much about happiness: We admit that the ideology we are discussing from a critical point of view, examining it as the ethnologist examines the myths of a “primitive society,” that these “world outlooks are largely imaginary, i.e. do not “correspond to reality”(Althusser 693) Althusser helps suggest that instead of facing the fact that the narrator is unhappy he lives in the illusion that he is. As an affect he finds himself unable to sleep because of his lack of emotion and connection to his own self.
Not until late in the book does the narrator realize how blind he has been for most of his life. He realizes that all the people that he once looked up to have all used him for selfish reasons and they had not truly cared about his well-being. The narrator describes how these people used him by
Mitch one of Stanley’s good friends and has a crush on Blanche has a sick and elderly mother, so doesn’t have a lot of time to spend time with his friends. Mitch says “I like you to be exactly the way that you are, because in all my-experiences I have never known anyone like you.” (Williams, s.6,103). This scene Mitch and Blanche open to each other, Blanche tells him about how her husband died. Mitch tells Blanche he is also alone to help ease her, Mitch thinks that he has found his soul mate. Blanche is using Mitch to get that chivalry out of him, and to overcome her loneliness.
”Unknown Blindness” The narrator in Raymond Carver’s "Cathedral" is not a particularly sensitive man. I might describe him as self-centered, superficial, and egotistical. And while his actions certainly speak to these points, it is his misunderstanding of the people and the relationships presented to him in this story which show most clearly his tragic flaw: while Robert is physically blind, it is the narrator who cannot clearly see the world around him. In the eyes of the narrator, Robert’s blindness is his defining characteristic. The opening line of "Cathedral" reads, "This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night" (Carver, 92).
But he is blind and doesn’t see the world. His “empty eyes” are figuratively looking away from the racism that controls everything occurring at the college. The narrator also experiences many different instances of peoples’ blindness. For example, the Brotherhood is blind to individuality. This is represented by Brother Jack’s glass eye.