Theme and Narrative Elements in Cathedral

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Theme and Narrative Elements in Cathedral Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” explores the power of communication. Meaningful insight is displayed by the symbolism of a blind man helping our narrator discover more than what he sees. A well put together story in which a narrowly focused man is placed within a situation where his jealousy and obsession are obstacles which are put aside for his enlightenment. Revelations pertaining to the narrator’s perspective are opened up when he stops explaining all the relevant details and accepts the lens in which the blind man sees the world. A fair amount of the back story is set up in “Cathedral”, we are told at length about the wife’s history with both Robert, her blind friend, and with her ex-husband. We are provided explicit detail on the effects of her previous marriage, and her subsequent suicide attempt, as well as the results of caring for Robert, a man who she still keeps in touch with years later and whose next caretaker married him. Our narrator’s wife is fairly well portrayed as a sensitive type that reads poetry and is fairly open and honest yet flashes glimpses of a darker side in her short outbursts of anger and melancholy. We are even expressly given access to our narrator’s short comings: with all of his preconceptions of the blind man who is coming over, the narrator has no basis on which to expect Robert to act having never known a blind person and having only the movies to go on. The narrator is quite literally blind in the sense of how he perceives Robert. Having never seen the blind man our narrator must conceive of Robert in a context void of visual information, a process he finds inconceivable for the blind. Carver has been compared to Ernest Hemingway by many including an article in The New York Times that reports, “In fact, Carver's language was unmistakably like Hemingway's - the simplicity and
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