In the narrative, the author writes the story in first person point of view through an unnamed narrator which enables the reader to visualize, experience, and perceive a deeper insight into his mind. The story commences with the narrator speaking directly to the audience appearing closed-off and narrow-minded. His wife has an old friend named Robert, who happens to be blind, coming to spend the night. Right away, the reader can sense how the narrator comes off as self-absorbed. He`s only concerned about how Robert’s visit will affect him and is inconsiderate about the strong bond Robert and his wife have built over the years. The narrator also lacks self-awareness when he found himself thinking “what a pitiful life this woman must have led.” (Carver 3) The woman being Beulah, Robert`s recently deceased wife, who the narrator belittled as she married a blind man and now she “could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loved one.” (Carver 3) Not realizing that with
Once Robert arrives some, of the narrators assumptions about blind people are broke down immediately like when he mentions "He didn't use a cane and he didn't
These views change possibly because a disabled person, whether a friend or family member, may be acquainted with them. Treating another equally removes these preconcieved beliefs. In the story, the audience enters the narrator's mind and sees the narrator's bias; furthermore, the narrator explains that he has "never met, or personally known, anyone who was blind" (5). The mind is powerful enough to convince people that they are seeing reality; however, empathizing with the disabled, whether through drawing a picture or conversing, reveals the flaws in people's
He makes this clear in the opening paragraph of the story where he says “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. 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 1). The narrator dismisses Robert in the same manner a white racist may dismiss an African-American. His prejudice, or any prejudice, is preconceived based on superficial qualities rather than actual experience or reason. It is evident the narrator can’t see beyond Robert’s disability and is judging Robert because of a characteristic that makes him uncomfortable. This unconscious placement of Robert into an atypical category prevents him from seeing Robert as an individual. The narrator does not see Robert as a whole person, but solely as a blind man. Part of what makes the narrator emotionally blind is this
The beginning of the story presents the narrator’s wife working for a blind man one summer by reading, “stuff to him, case studies, reports, that sort of thing” (Carver, 34). She eventually extends an invitation for the blind man, Robert, to stay at their house after Robert’s wife had passed away. The narrator was not too happy about having a stranger stay in his home by stating, “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed” (Carver, 34). The narrator seems very timid about someone he had never met stay at his house who can see purely nothing. This gives off an impression that the narrator doesn’t want to have Robert stay with him because he will be a hassle to keep up with since blind people in the “movies” progress, “slowly and never
Immediately, the narrator reveals his narrow mindedness when faced with Robert, the blind man. Preconceived judgemental comments are mentioned moments after the initial meeting, as the narrator refuses to refer to the man by his name, instead only acknowledging him as “the blind man”. He recalls a moment when the blind man touched his wife’s face, not fully understanding the importance of such action, only classifying it as unusually strange. The narrator then reveals that he has “never met or personally known, anyone who was blind”, offering an insight into an explanation for his behaviour.
His further ignorance about the blind are focused in on Robert since he is aware of his upcoming visit. Hearing the marriage stories about Robert from his wife the narrator cannot realize how a woman could love a blind man, "It was beyond my understanding. Hearing this, I felt sorry for the blind man for a little bit. And then I found myself thinking what a pitiful life this women must have led" (508). This ignorance and immature understanding of relationships overshadows his attitude toward Roberts visit, unwanted and condescending. His attitude toward the blind man seems to change though before and furtherly during the connection they make as they draw the cathedral together. Although there is no evidence that the narrator's overall ignorances and prejudices are gone from the experience, it is very clear however that he does come to some sort of revelation and enlightment, "My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything" (515). Because what the narrator draws is a cathedral it is only assumable that this enlightment that the narrator experiences has to do with values of Christianity, in this case it would be a realization of equality and treating people with love, little is said about the effects this revelation has on him.
By saying that his idea of blind people came from the movies shows that he probably has not had any real life encounters with a person who is blind, therefore the only idea he has of blind people are the kind that are portrayed in movies. However, by saying that blind people “never laugh” and “move slowly” makes them seem dysfunctional as human beings. Blind people cannot see, but that does not correlate to how quickly they move. By saying that blind people move slowly, that indicates that they are “disabled” and not able to keep up at the same pace as others. Not only is the fact that the narrators perception of those who are blind awkward, but it makes it seem as if the blind have their own stereotypes—which is the foundation of discrimination and prejudice.
In Raymond Carver's "Cathedral," the husband's view of blind men is changed when he encounters his wife's long time friend, Robert. His narrow minded views and prejudice thoughts of one stereotype are altered by a single experience he has with Robert. The husband is changed when he thinks he personally sees the blind man's world. Somehow, the blind man breaks through all of the husband's jealousy, incompetence for discernment, and prejudgments in a single moment of understanding.
This seems to unsettle the husband, as he notices that his wife has a stronger connection with Robert than they have in their marriage. The husband is blind to his wife’s feelings and needs in their relationship, and this lack of communication between them has affected their marriage. His wife wrote a poem about her experience with the blind man touching her face, and he brushed it off by stating that, “[He] can remember not thinking much about the poem” (33). The blind man however acts as an outlet for the wife to vent about her feelings which forms a close bond between the two. Robert can understand the speaker’s wife in a way that the speaker clearly is not able to. The narrator mentions that he believes Robert’s wife, Beluah, must have led a miserable life because she, “could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loves one. A woman who could never go on day after day and never receive the smallest compliment from her beloved” (34). He believes that the blind man’s wife must have suffered due to his inability to see her, yet the narrator has never even truly seen his own wife. Robert’s friendship with the speaker’s wife is what his own marriage is lacking due to not being able to recognize that his wife needs an emotional connection with him.
The narrator is pre-judgemental towards all people who are blind, whether or not he has met them. He believes all blind people are the same as those he has watched in movies. The narrator perception of the blind is that they “moved slowly and never laughed” and when they went out “they were led by seeing eye-dogs” (Carver 104). The movie industry creates a false image of the blind, which leads to the narrator’s assumptions. However, the blind are not all the same, just like how everyone else in the world are not the same. People are designed to be different in their personalities, thoughts, looks and much more. The narrator’s ideas of Robert are based off of false conceptions and this changes his attitude towards Robert. The narrator already has strong feelings towards Robert before meeting him
The story opens with the narrator giving a background of his wife and Robert. Immediately, it is easy for the audience to form a negative opinion about the narrator. Within the first paragraph of the story he says, “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me” (Carver 33). This exemplifies his pre-formed opinion about Robert even though he hardly knows anything about him. He clearly is uncomfortable with the fact that Robert is blind, mainly based on his lack of exposure to people with disabilities. The narrator is very narrow-minded for most of this story, making it easy to initially dislike him.
The doubt the narrator had towards blind people his further evident when the blind man arrives at his house. On seeing the blind man for the first time in the parking lot, the narrator noticed that the blind man had a beard, but he thought that it was unusual. This is evident when the narrator remarks, “This blind man, feature this, he was wearing a full beard! A beard on a blind man! Too much, I say” (Carver 4). The skeptical view, the narrator had towards blind people is further brought out when the narrator was being told about the death of the blind man’s wife.
Raymond Carver’s characters were considered to be very much like him: “’on the edge: of poverty, alcoholic self-destruction, loneliness” (Mays 32). His short story “Cathedral” is about a young couple, who have a visitor coming to stay with them. This visitor, Robert, is the wife’s friend, and he is blind. The narrator, the husband, has never met someone who is blind, was bothered by that. To him, being blind meant constantly needing help from others. His depiction of blindness was what he has seen in the movies. “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit… A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to,” he tells the reader (Carver 32). His wife on the other hand, was very happy to see her old friend. She had worked for Robert
Through the author's use of diction, more aspects of the narrator's personality are revealed. Simply from word choice, we learn that the narrator is prejudicial towards others, and jealous of other men's relationships with his wife. When facing the situation of Robert coming to town to visit his wife, the narrator blatantly expresses that "a blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to" (Carver 209). This repeated substitution of "blind man"