Threatening Relationships in Carver’s Cathedral Essay

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Threatening Relationships in Carver’s Cathedral

Although many critics have written numerous accounts of Richard Carver’s "Cathedral" as being about revelation and overcoming prejudice, they have overlooked a very significant aspect: the unfolding of marital drama. The story tells of how a close outside friendship can threaten marriage by provoking insecurities, creating feelings of invasion of privacy, and aggravating communication barriers.

The close outside friendship between the narrator’s wife and Robert, the blind man, provokes the narrator’s insecurities. This friendship has lasted for ten long years. During those years, they have exchanged countless voice tapes wherein they both tell each other what has happened in
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In addition, the narrator’s insecurity worsens when his wife shows Robert extra attention (28).

Not only did the narrator feel insecure, he also feels that Robert’s arrival into their home is an invasion of his privacy. Critic Richard Eder said, "In ‘Cathedral’ a husband who has long resented his wife’s devotion to a blind man grudgingly puts up with the blind man’s visit" (103). The husband resents the thought of the blind man sleeping in his house (Carver 1054). Studies in social psychology show that people can react strongly to trespassers on their personal space. The narrator’s home encloses that personal space and thus he feels that Robert is intruding his privacy. Furthermore, the narrator is plagued with preconceived notions about blind people. For example, he thinks blind people do not smoke, should have dark glasses, and carry a cane (1056). Therefore, to have another man—blind at that—who is close to his wife and sleeps in his house is just too much for him to bear.

Through the narrator’s eye, Robert is an intruder not only to his personal privacy but also an intruder to his supposed private relationship with his wife. Could the narrator be threatened by the history shared between his wife and the blind man? After all, Robert came into the wife’s life long before the narrator met her. Therefore, one could begin to