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First person point of view in “Raymond’s Run” and “Cathedral” Essay

The authors of “Raymond’s Run” and “Cathedral”, both use a first person point of view in their short stories. In “Raymond’s Run”, by Toni Cade Bambara, the first person point of view shows how the narrator is dealing with the situations around her and maturing in the process. In “Cathedral”, by Raymond Carver, the reader can see the change in the narrator’s understanding of the blind man through different situations that happens throughout the story. Both authors have similar purposes in mind when they were writing the story, they both wanted to show the growth and transition of the narrators. The use of the first person point of view makes it easier for the readers to see the thoughts and emotions that are being experienced by the narrator, which will give us a better insight into their thinking and actions.

In “Raymond’s Run”, the narrator of the story is Hazel, and the whole story is seen through her eyes. In the beginning of the story, the reader finds out that Hazel looks after her older brother with a mental disorder. She does not mind looking after her brother, and she is also really protective of him because many people like to make fun of him and he also gets himself in trouble. Hazel’s protectiveness of her brother can be seen when Hazel says, “If anybody has anything to say to Raymond, anything about his big head, they have to come by me”. She is also a very boastful little girl, especially when it comes to her running, she thinks that no one can even come close to her running speed. Her boastfulness can bee seen in the third paragraph when she says, “There is no track meet that I don’t win the first place medal”.

As the story moves along, Hazel bumps into a gang of girls that she does not really like and confronts them. She especially does not like Gretchen because Gretchen is Hazel’s main competitor. Then a transition occurs when Raymond is calling Hazel and “rattling the fence like a gorilla in a cage”. She realizes that she already has a lot of medals and ribbons, but Raymond has nothing, and also realizes that Raymond is a very fast runner who has the potential to become a winner. So, it does not matter if she wins, loses or ties the race because she can always retire and coach Raymond. Through the first person point of view, the reader can see the personal experiences that Hazel goes through, and how she came to understand that: winning was not everything, she should help others enjoy winning and she could gain respect for someone through competition.

In “Cathedral”, husband is telling the story from his point of view, which is in first person. The reader can see that in the beginning of the story, the narrator appears to be hostile and irritated because his wife invites her blind friend to stay for the night. The husband does not want the blind man to stay at his house because he does not understand the blind man and the blind man’s relationship with his wife. To alleviate some of his uneasiness, the narrator makes a brainless comment to his wife about taking the blind man bowling. Then, when the blind man comes, he asks the blind man which side of the train was he sitting on. Gradually, as the evening wears on, the narrator begins to relax with the blind man. They start drinking and smoking weed together, eventually the narrator turns on the television.

When the show on cathedrals is showing, the narrator tries to describe a cathedral in words to the blind man. When that does not succeed, the blind man asks the narrator to help draw a cathedral. They start by having the blind man hold the narrator’s hand as he draws a cathedral on a paper bag. The blind man tells the narrator to close his eyes and draw. So the narrator complies and closes his eyes and draws, saying, “So we kept on with it. His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was like nothing in my life up to now”. The ending reveals to us that the narrator is learning more about himself and human communication than the blind man is learning about cathedrals. Through the first person point of view, the experience of the successful communication between the blind man and the narrator allows the reader to see the transformation that occurs in the narrator.

In both of the stories, the authors basically have the same purpose in mind when they are using the first person point of view. From all the events that happened to Hazel in “Raymond’s Run”, it is clear that the author used the first person point of view to see the change and growth in her thinking. Hazel went from a very anti feminine, competitive and straightforward little girl to a mature, and respectful little girl. In “Cathedral”, the author uses the husband as the narrator because the author wants us to see how the husband interacts with the blind man and slowly understands him. With the first person point of view, the author generally wants their readers to get a more personal understanding of the narrator and how they see things. Therefore, in both these stories, the authors’ purpose was to show the changes that occur to the narrators of each story.

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