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Monet Thomas-Anderson Professor Zimmerman 9/16/11 Intro to English

Response Paper: Cathedral

The short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver seeks to examine the difference between “seeing” and “sight”. In this story, the narrator is forced to entertain a blind friend of his wife’s. At the beginning of the story the narrator talks ill-mannered of his wife’s blind friend, commenting that “a blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.” (Literature, p.305) Throughout the story, the narrator learns more about the blind man, and begins to see him as more than just the “blind man in the movies.” Towards the end of the story, the narrator is faced with the difficult task of having to explain what a cathedral looks like to the blind man. At first, he tries to verbally describe the appearance of the cathedral but, then the blind man takes a different approach and asks him to draw it for him while he follows with his hand. As the narrator draws with the blind man, the narrator experiences his epiphany moment. In my opinion, the revelation that the narrator has at the end of story exposes the narrator’s own blindness. The blind man helps the narrator to “see”. The narrator has being “looking” his entire life, however he has never actually “seen” the people around him. At the beginning of the story, the narrator is shown to be self-centered, closed minded, and coldhearted. These qualities allow the narrator to shut off his emotional attachment to many elements in the story, therefore making him metaphorically “blind” to the emotions of others. He is not able to connect or sympathize with what he does not fully understand. The narrator’s inability to


sympathize is confirmed when he predetermines his mindset about the blind man based on his uneasiness about blind people. Blind people make him seemingly uneasy which adds to his dislike for the blind man. This revelation has had such a tremendous impact on the narrator for two reasons, 1.) for so long he had been emotionally closed off from the world and 2.) he previously had not known that he was closed off from the world. The relationship between the narrator and his wife is strained by the narrator’s cold-heartedness. The wife seems unhappy with her relationship with the narrator when she says, “ If you love me, you can do this for me. If you don’t love me, okay.” (Literature, p. 306) A woman that is secure in her relationship would not make this statement to her significant other. The narrator’s cold-heartedness and lack of communication keeps him emotionally closed off. “I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside of anything…”, this quote suggests that the narrator has finally realized that he is no longer contained in the small box he once put himself in. (Literature, p 317) He keeps his eyes closed for two reasons, 1.) because he does not want to let the revelation pass, and 2.) he is not sure how his life will change after the revelation. The revelation brought upon by the blind man transformed the narrator into a more open-minded individual. He was once self-centered, cold-hearted and closed minded but after the revelation I believe he will be more kind-hearted and open like the blind man.


“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver