The narrator in Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” is not a particular sensitive man. I might describe him as being self-centered, superficial, and egotistical.
And while his actions certainly speaks to these points, it is his understanding of the people and the relationships presented to him in the story which show most clearly his tragic flaw. While Robert is physically blind, it is the narrator who cannot clearly see the world around him. In the eyes of the narrator, Robert’s blindness is his defining characteristic.As we move from the beginning to the end of the story, you will see a change in the narrator’s insight on life. The opening line of “Cathedral” reads, “This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night”(1055). Clearly the narrator cannot see past Robert’s disability; he dismisses him in the same way a white racist might dismiss a black person.
Another example that shows that the husband is “blind” comes in the beginning of the story before Robert arrives.When the husband and his wife talk about Robert, the husband usually refers to him as “the blind man”(1055), and he never uses Robert’s name or assigns any human attributes to him. The narrator is quite jealous of the relationship between his wife and Robert. Jealousy can be showed by the narrator’s statement, ” They”d become good friends, my wife and the blind man. Johnson 2 How do I know these things? She told me”(1056). He was quite jealous of the tapes and poems used for communication by his wife and Robert.When Robert makes it to his destination, the narrator does not know how to communicate with him because he is so caught up with his disability of being blind. The narrator described the blind man as, ” old, heavy-set, balding man with stooped shoulders”(1058).
Since he has never met a blind man, Robert’s appearance surprised him. Also Robert didn”t wear dark glasses, but the narrator always thought the blind needed glasses for eye support. In the middle of the story, the narrator said, “They talked of things that had happened to them- to them! – these past ten years.I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife’s sweet lips”(1059). At this point, the narrator is being quite selfish because he would rather their conversation be about their marriage rather than about his wife’s past experiences. As time prevails, the narrator and Robert gets acquainted better; although, the reason for this might be because the multiple rounds of whiskey and the usage of drugs.
When watching TV, the talk of cathedrals arise, and the narrator tries to explain to Robert what a cathedral looks like, but instead Robert explains to him by a drawing.When they have finished drawing the cathedral, the blind man instructs Robert to open his eyes. Robert keeps his eyes closed; he now understands that he can see more without the use of his eyes. As the story ends, the narrator is in awe of his new point of view. When prompted by the blind man to open his eyes and view his cathedral, the narrator states that his eyes are still closed and that “I thought I”d keep them that way for a little longer (1064). ” The sarcasm and the pessimistic attitude are Johnson 3 gone.His tone and choice of words have been directly affected by his experience with the blind man.
” At the end of the story, the narrator realizes that he was the blind one. He realizes that a person don”t have to have his eyes open in order to see the world. From his experience through the blind man, the narrator realizes that u should not judge a book by its cover. Knowledge does not come from seeing everything, but instead, it comes from being able to sit down and listen the voices around you.
For that reason, I think the narrator is on the path to becoming a better and more open person.