You can never seem to know what’s going on in another ones life, unless you put your feet in there shoes, so to judge, is simply ignorance. Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” is a story about how the narrator is uncomfortable with having his wife’s blind friend, Robert, over. Roger has lost his wife, and to cope with her death, he planned to visit the narrator’s wife. Without any knowledge whatsoever on how to act in accompany towards a blind man, the narrator seems to get a glimpse of what it is to truly fit into the blind mans shoe.
The narrator starts his story very unenthusiastic about Roger’s visit. He based his ideas mainly from movies he remembered watching, “In the movies, the blind moves slowly and never laughs. Sometimes they are led by seeing-eye dogs.” (209). With these ideas, it made it clear on how unaware he was towards blind people. It seemed as though he believed that blind people didn’t have much to do with their lives.
He felt sorry for Robert, and basically pitied Robert’s wife. The Narrator comments, “Imagine a woman who could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loved one. A woman who could go on day after day and never receive the smallest compliment from her beloved. A woman whose husband could never read the expression on her face, be it misery or something better.” (213). These were such shallow words to say to someone you have never even met yet, face to face. How can he forget that these were two people who fell in love with each other for who they are, for better or for worse. Beauty is only skin deep.
The narrator then anxiously awaits the arrival of Robert as he sips back his drink and watches television. They meet on a high note as the narrator’s wife introduces the both of them to each other. As they find there selves having small talk, the narrator’s wife seems to find herself being embarrassed as the narrator asks Robert, “Which side of the train did you sit on, by the way?” The wife then angrily responded “What a question, which side! What’s it matter which side” as if she weren’t sure that her husband was mature enough to handle company who supposedly is blind (215).
As the night fled by Robert and the narrator’s wife caught up on old times. Time passed and the narrator’s wife had left the room, getting ready for bed. The narrator seemed to feel uncomfortable as he was left alone with Robert. He then offered another drink, and also offered to smoke some dope, and Robert accepted the offer. I guess this was the narrator’s way to lighten up the air, for the narrator to sort of loosen up. His wife comes back, and they all participate in having a little smoke session. The narrator’s wife ends up falling asleep and Robert suggests staying up late with the narrator.
With the television on, the narrator chitchat’s with Robert. “They’re showing the outside of this cathedral now”, as he explains to Robert what can’t be heard on television (223). As the television was airing this cathedral, the narrator wondered whether Robert actually knew what a cathedral really is. The narrator asks him and finds out that he only knows what he has just been informed through the television.
Robert tries desperately to describe what a cathedral really is, “To begin with, they’re very tall”, he says, and then continuing on with as though his life was dependent on this (224). It seems as though the narrator wanted to give Robert a vision, he wanted to put Robert in his shoes for a change.
The narrator then seemed to realize how bad he was doing, “I’m not doing so good, am I?” he tells Robert as if to see whether or not he really wasn’t doing too good of a job or what (225). Robert urges him on, and he continued with which seemed to be a great amount of effort.
Robert then suggests a different approach. He gets the narrator to draw the cathedral on a construction paper like shopping bag. Robert follows through the motions of the narrator and seemingly tries to make out the cathedral. The narrator gets all into it and tries hard to draw a picture that will give at least a hint of what a cathedral is like.
The narrator finishes up the drawing and Robert suggests that the narrator closes his eyes and continue to draw. The narrator agrees as if to try to see if he could be able to still draw the cathedral with his eyes shut. “I think you got it, take a look. What do you think?” Robert asked (228). But the narrator decided not to open his eyes, for I believe he has just seen how remarkable it is to be blind.
In conclusion I believe the narrator went through a life learning experience. He was afraid of the unfamiliar. He judged another being that he had never even met. He then got to be familiar with the unfamiliar. He then made a friend. I believe this story took the reader through the narrator’s eyes, the eyes of the blind.