The short story named the Cathedral is less of a religious book than it sounds; in fact, the cathedral is brought about as a building drawn by both the narrator and Robert to emphasize the themes of the story. According to Carver, the narrator’s wife invites her old friend, Robert, to his house and the narrator is not happy about it. In fact, he sees Robert, a blind man, the same way he sees blind men in the television (Carver, 1999). This being the case, he treats him differently from the beginning of the story up to the end when he sees things in a different way. From this, the story teaches us that physical blindness does not render one unable to live to his fullest. I will use the characters in the book to bring about the theme of blindness.
In this paper, I will look into the critics made of this book and compare them with how they have been used. Through their critics, I discovered many of the themes brought about in this book such as the theme of blindness was brought about by using its characters as a literary element in the following ways. None the less, I agree with most of the critics in this story except one on the following ways.
In the beginning, it is clear that the narrator prejudges Robert just by his physical appearance, in fact; he only came because of his wife. According to Carver, the narrator is the belief that all blind men are the same and to this end, he compares Robert to the blind men who he sees on the television (Carver, 1999). By the fact that the narrator assumes Roberts character to be the same as the ones who are acting, it means that he is blind like real blind men. According to Stefanescu, one criticism that advances in this part is minimalism (Stefanescu, 2008); this is so because there is not enough information brought about-about Robert. We only see him appear and even though the narrator compares him to the blind men he sees in televisions, at first, he is not stating if his first impressions of Robert correspond with the blind men he sees on the television.
Shaw says that, throughout the story, the narrator is brought about out in a way that renders him blind of his surrounding especially in the way he treats the people around him and also by the way he is detached from his surroundings (Shaw, 2006). This is brought about vividly by the way he tries to describe the cathedral he sees on the television; he ends up giving a vague description and later on says that he does not take part in religious activities. With regards to this, the narrator lacks insight for things which adds up to the curiosity of life that makes one feel truly alive and in contact with the surroundings.
Blindness is also brought about by the narrator by the fact that he is unable to see beyond the physical relationship. Carver points out that, evidence that he recognizes the physical relationship is the fact that he notices that the robe his wife wore did not cover her thigh, but since he knew that Robert was blind, he did not take any action (Carver, 1999). This only means that if Robert were not blind, he would have covered her or even tells her to cover herself. None the less, when the narrator talks about Robert’s wife, he says that she was unlucky by not being esteemed by Robert since he was blind. By stating this, he is inferring that his relationships are based on the physical attributes. Therefore, the narrator is considered an outcast who does not comprehend the basis of relationships.
In Carver, when Robert gets into the narrator’s house, Robert and the narrator’s wife talk alone as the narrator goes on with his own business (Carver, 1999). This goes on until when the wife goes, and there is an awkward silence in the room. From this, context, the blindness of the narrator is seen to extend to his wife in that he is detached from her and also the visitor in their home. In Carver, he seems hostile to their relationship without any reason; hence, opposed to the unknown, thus blind, this sets the tone for ambiguities and paradoxes in the story (Carver, 1989).
Robert is seen as a free person in spite of his blindness, as a matter of fact, he disapproves the narrator in many ways. One way that he disapproves him is that he has a beard, also, the fact that he smokes marijuana and has two televisions make it hard for a person to know that he is blind. In addition to this, Robert has close relationships as evidenced by his relationship with the narrator’s wife via audio tapes. According to Ahmed, we can conclude that Robert is open minded with regards to life and understands life better that the narrator (Ahmed, 2004).
At the final stages of the story, there is a twist in the story whereby Robert tells the narrator to help him draw the cathedral which he saw on the television since it was hard for him (the narrator) to describe it. To do this, Robert tells the narrator to close his eyes and continue drawing the cathedral until they put people inside it. Afterward, Robert asks the narrator to see it, but he refuses to open his eyes, but the narrator states that “it’s something.” From this context, the theme of blindness is brought about ironically in that it is Robert who makes the narrator see in spite of his earlier pre-judgments (Carver, 1989).
In Stefanescu, none the less, a contrasting critic of this story is that the story uses minimalism to bring about its plot (Stefanescu, 2008). I disagree with this critic in that the only place I recognize minimalism being used is the place where the narrator assumes that Robert is the same as the other blind men on the television. As a matter of fact, the fact that Robert had beards was a sign that he was not the same as the other blind men. In addition to this, the previous life of Robert is clearly brought out and also the life of the narrator’s wife with regards to being a militant’s wife. Never the less, the origin of the relationship between Robert and also the narrator’s wife is made manifest by the story. Given this evidence, the critic of minimalism loses its credibility since it was not employed by the author of the book
Stefanescu, A. (2008). Postmodernism and minimalism in Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”. Munich: GRIN Verlag GmbH.
Carver, R. (1999). Cathedral. London: Harvill.
Shaw, T. M. (2006). Irony and illusion in the architecture of Imperial Dakar. Lewiston: E. Mellen press.
Ahmed, Sara, (2004). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. New York: Routledge,
Carver, Raymond. Cathedral: Stories. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1989.

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