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Inside the Cathedral

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Inside The Cathedral

In the short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, Carver touches on a personal experience. Carver and his wife were going to have a house guest, a man that his wife had worked with ten years ago over the summer in Seattle. Carver’s wife had stayed in touch with this man, Robert, over the years. The visit was bittersweet, though Robert was going to be reunited with a long-time friend; it was under the conditions that his wife had passed way. He’d come to Connecticut to visit his late-wife’s family and stay with the Carvers. There was one catch, however. Robert was completely blind and this made Raymond carver extremely uneasy, saying that “a wink and a nod are the same to a blind man.” Raymond’s taking on the situation; catering to a blind man; was very socially ignorant. Admittedly so, he said “My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.” (Carver, lines :_). Raymond also offered to take the “blind man” bowling, which is truly a sad, if not just cynical image to bear. Raymond’s wife was extremely nervous to be accommodating to the Robert as well, but it was an excitable nervousness. She longed to be reunited with him, to share stories and catch up, but this was also a man her husband had never met; she could sense the tinge of jealousy and irritation in the air around her husband. She was completely annoyed with her husband’s refusal to accept Robert as a man, blind or not. After all, he is supposed to be a guest, not a burden. When Robert arrived, Raymond’s interaction was withheld. Instead he let his wife and Robert take plenty of time to get reacquainted. Raymond only interjected in the conversation to seem to his wife he didn’t feel left out, and to the “blind man” he hadn’t left the room. Even at dinner, there was little talking, as Raymond was amazed the “blind man” knew where his food and fork was. As they all consumed one scotch after the other, they chatted more in the living room. Raymond’s wife continually asked Robert if he was ready to turn in. She was almost too accommodating to him, but she eventually fell asleep, leaving Robert and Raymond in the living room to bond alone. The two men sat in the living room on the couch together and listened to the news station. They conversed a little, but no real ground had been broken until Raymond offered Robert a joint. They smoked dope and Raymond flipped through the channels until he arrived at a documentary about Cathedrals. They talked about the show and what cathedrals looked like, but Raymond could tell that this “blind man” had no idea what a Cathedral could look like. Stoned and serene, the “blind man” Robert, devised a plan. He exclaimed that “learning never ends” as he told Raymond to retrieve paper and pencil and when he returned Robert asked him to draw the cathedral. They’re hands glided together as he drew, discussing ever intricacy of the drawing. Halfway through, Robert asked Raymond to continue drawing with his eyes closed. He did this. By the time the drawing was complete Raymond and Robert had finally bonded, much to the delight of Raymond’s sleepy wife. And Raymond found himself to be a changed man. He saw the world through a blind man’s eyes and finally understood that you don’t have to have all your senses to have some sense about you.

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