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Raymond Carver


Submitted By chloe123
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In Raymond Carver’s short story “ Cathedral” readers are introduced to a character that experiences change. The story draws readers into the life of a man who is seen as close-minded and selfish. Readers are to believe the narrator is closed off to the world until a certain interaction with a blind man changes his perceptive. Carver’s story uses irony to demonstrate that people don’t need their sight to see life and with this the narrator’s transformation holds a great importance. The story is based on the narrator’s relationship with his wife and how the two will be hostessing a blind man at their home. The wife’s close relationship with the blind man, Robert creates hostility for the narrator. As readers one can interpret that the hostility is derived early in the story towards Robert when the narrator states, “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit, He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me”(1152) The narrator, before even meeting Robert, is already certain he does not care for Robert and he does not in any way feel remorse for him. The narrator is extremely judgmental and close-minded towards Robert’s presence. However, the narrator’s feelings and impression towards Robert drastically change throughout the story and with this the narrator experiences an epiphany. The narrator changes his close minded perceptive on life and allows his insights to open. Robert helps the narrator to undergo this transformation as the two are drawing Cathedrals together. This is important because Robert is unable to physically see the Cathedrals whereas the narrator can physically see the Cathedrals but cannot emotionally see them. Robert has the narrator close his eyes while drawing the Cathedrals and with this the narrator has a sudden realization on life. He understands that though Robert is physically blind, he is still capable of seeing life. Previous to the narrator’s transformation, the narrator believes that Robert is incapable of certain things without sight. The narrator expresses this when he states “And then I found myself thinking what a pitiful life this woman must have led. Imagine a woman who could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loved one” (1154) The narrator had believed that Robert was less of a man than he was in the sense that he could not see his wife and therefore prohibiting him to have that certain intimacy that the narrator can have. However, the narrator changes his thoughts about Robert and his blindness as the narrator experiences the depths of his mind. Through his transformation he states “ My eyes were still closed I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything” (1161) Here at this moment the narrator’s transformation into an open-minded person develops the irony of the story. In the beginning readers are subjected to an unsentimental and resistant individual. However, though the bitterness the narrator had towards Robert, it was Robert that provided the narrator with the experience of his epiphany. Therefore, in Carver’s short story the narrator has changed his perceptive on Robert and maybe on life. Readers want to believe that the narrator will change forever but the story provides only the moment of his transformation and the acceptance he has towards Robert. This change for the narrator reveals that his close-mindedness had prohibited him from appreciating life.

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