Raymond Carver’s Cathedral is a story about the narrator, his wife, and his wife’s blind friend Robert. Carver tells the story from the first point perspective of the narrator. This limits the understanding of the other characters to the narrator’s perception. At the same time, it is a chance for the reader to know the most intimate thoughts of the narrator. The cathedral is an important symbol in the story and it drives the plot. The three main characters are different. They have diverse personalities, which complement each other. Characterization, the cathedral symbol, and the use of the first person perspective work towards creating and enhancing multiple themes in the story.
The author uses first person point of view to narrate the story. This makes it possible for the reader to know what the character is thinking. This point of view enhances the character of the narrator since the reader is aware of his most intimate thoughts. In the story, the narrator appears as a prejudiced person who is unknowledgeable in most issues of life. For instance, by knowing the thoughts of the narrator, it is possible to see that he knows nothing about blindness and that he does not seem to know much about his wife. The use of the first person point of view means that the reader does not get to know all the details concerning the other characters. In the story, it is not possible to know what the narrator’s wife or Robert is thinking. The reader only knows what the narrator reveals (Gass and Cuoco 66). The use of this point of view enhances the character of the narrator and it develops the themes of insecurity and jealousy in the story.
The story features three main characters who relate to each other in different ways. The narrator is the main character and the story is mostly about him and the changes that he goes through as the story progresses. He is a round character and he develops in the course of the story. In the beginning, he is presented as an uncaring, insensitive, and prejudiced person who has no interest in the concern and welfare of others. At the end, he seems to have come to a new realization as he puts himself in the position of a blind man. The narrator’s wife is a stable character in the story. She does not approve of some of the things that her husband does or says. Robert is a blind man who enables the narrator to change his perspective concerning his perception of blindness. He makes the narrator aware of how blind he has been all this time. The author contrasts the character of the narrator with that of Robert. The narrator is an unhappy and cynical person who does not seem to have any meaning in life. On the other hand, Robert is full of life and he is happy and content despite his lack of sight. The characters create the themes in the story. The themes of prejudice and ignorance are especially evident through the narrator. The narrator’s wife and Robert develop the theme of friendship in the story.
The author uses
the cathedral as a symbol of reawakening. The narrator and Robert are blind in
different ways. Despite the differences that the two men have had since their
meeting, the decision to draw the cathedral brings them closer and they find
something they can do together. Once the narrator tries to draw the cathedral
with the help of Robert, he realizes that he can see things more clearly. He
does not want to open his eyes to look at the picture but he wants to see it as
the blind man sees it. The cathedral is a symbol of religion. Before the
narrator started drawing, he had told Robert that he was not a religious man
and he did not believe in anything. However, after he finishes the drawing, it
is clear that a change has occurred within him and he no longer has the same
perception concerning many things.
Carver, Raymond. Cathedral. New York, NY: Vintage, 2009. Print
Gass, William H. and Lorin, Cuoco. The Writer and Religion. Chicago, IL: SIU Press, 2000. Print