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Raymond Carver (1938-1988) is the American writer of short stories. All his stories about American people, simple like workers and waitresses, whose dreams does not become true. He highlighted just the main points in a minimalistic way. Carver brought humor and regret to explore it in a simple like conversation method. The stories at first glance seem to be dedicated to purely everyday routine, but in fact, they reveal serious social problems. The social problems are marked by profound psychology and amazing capacity of the word.
For all his life, 50 years he was struggling between financial provision for his wife and two kids, and his vocation for life. In the twentieth century alcohol poured down the river and people used different kinds of narcotic substances. This lifestyle definitely influenced routine people’s lives and their health. In the short-story “Cathedral” (first published in 1983) the author highlighted the topics of jealousy, connections between people in everyday life and isolation.
The narrator tells us the story from the first unnamed person.
From the first words the understands how the narrator is different, separate. The narrator is the husband of the wife, whose name is unknown; she invited her friend – the blind man to come visit them. The narrator introduced the blind man as Robert. In the first couple paragraphs the author explains how the blind man met the narrator’s wife, what kind of feelings she had when Robert touched her face and the neck with the fingers; he was her “childhood sweetheart”.
This action impressed her that much that she wrote a poem about this. The narrator is jealous of this too friendly connection on his opinion. The future Robert’s visit is the inconvenience for the husband.
The narrator has very limited points of view in his life, especially author shows to the reader how wrong the husband understands blindness. This misunderstanding of blindness, in the narrator’s opinion it is a disability, and the person becomes infirm. It is an ironic example of how at the end of the story the blind man will explain to the husband how to draw and just opening husband’s eyes to the world around him. It is a big difference between on what the person is looking and what he or she is seeing. The narrator does not see anything around him, his world is limited to his wife and the TV. It is hard to imagine how his wife got married with him. She seems to be very versatile woman, who has connection with different people.
The strong connection between the narrator’s wife and Robert is showed through the sending the tapes to each other during past ten years. In these tapes they shared the circumstances of their life, she told him a lot about her husband. The narrator does not want to hear what his wife told to the Robert about him, because of what he might to hear as the Robert’s opinion about him. Even Robert has this disability he still can show sympathy to the narrator’s wife, at the same time the narrator with all his ability cannot even understand and support his wife.
Also, when Robert just arrived to their house and the wife had a conversation with the blind man she never mentioned the name of her husband, and when the narrator was trying to say something it looked foolishly and absurdly. Later, when this situation showed how isolated the narrator in society around him, maybe on the same reason he did not have any friends in his life. “The narrator’s lack of relationship extends to the relationship with his wife, as is evident not only in their sparring in the narrative present, but also in the remoteness of perspective as he tells the story of her attempted suicide a few years before.” (Bullock) Even the closest people at his life had difficulties with communication with the narrator.
The author describes how many drinks the company had during the night and also that they were smoking dope. This description definitely appeared in the story because of the author’s biography and the time when the story had been written. The alcoholism and smoking of any kinds of drugs was a common problem, as then as now. On the narrator’s opinion smoking the dope was helping him to see dreams and turn on his imagination, while it was just common addiction. The dreams have helped him to diversify his meager life.
The main point of the story happens when the narrator and Robert was watching TV. The narrator’s wife left the room and those two have had to talk about something. As soon as the narrator does not have any friends, so he does not know what about they can talk and how to begin the conversation. When the narrator decides to describe what he is seeing on the TV, it turns to the point that he does not have the ability to depict. Even the narrator has the advantage to see the Cathedral, he still short with his description. By having this the narrator stalled in his speech to describe how the Cathedral looks, the author is showing to us how the narrator symbolically blind in the specific way. At this moment the narrator may understands that if he previously considers himself to be predominant in this situation with blind man; Even the Robert is physically blind, he still can see much more the narrator.
The equality between Robert and the narrator approaching in the end of the story when Robert-blind man is teaching the sighted how to draw. Long time ago Aristotle listed five main feelings: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. When the person is losing one of them, then the person is exacerbated by the other four senses of perception of the world. When Robert and the narrator were sitting together, and the blind man was telling what the narrator has to do, like first draw one thing, then another. “Before the drawing, the designing of an alternative masculinity, can begin, the narrator must change his isolating orientation by finding, metaphorically of course, his connection to his inner life, to mortality and the physical world, to others, and to a spiritual dimension.” (Bullock) At this point, the narrator closed his eyes both men were at the same level.
The closed eyes of the narrator also mirror the blindness. The first couple lines what the narrator draws with the ballpoint on the bag from groceries create a simple box, then he added roof to the box. In narrator’s imagination it was a similitude of a house where he lived before. Next were spires which he added on the edges of the roof with swells, after that narrator draw windows with arches, flying buttresses and doors. All that time what narrator spent on the drawing, he was encouraged and supported by blind man. Each piece of this pictures has a specific meaning of the narrator’s life. The meaning of the blind men words: “Put some people in there now. What the cathedral without people?” describes how the presence of the family and friends are important in our life. The narrator grasps how lonely his life was before and how it can be inside the cathedral, so he does not want to come back to reality.
In a conclusion, Raymond Carver in his short stories opens the themes of everyday people’s lives and jealously. Through the metaphors authors raises the problems with personal ego and connections between people. Also, importance of socializing with people around. The Cathedral symbolizes a place for connections with God. Irony is also presents in the story when the sighted man with keeping his eyes closed can see. Author does not explain what the narrator sees, but he got this connection and he is no more isolated.
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