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Narrator in “The Cathedral” by Raymond Carver Essay

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Updated: Dec 29th, 2020

The narrator in Carver’s “The Cathedral” is selfish and egocentric. When the blind man (Robert) arrives in the house, the narrator invites him to have a seat as they convene for dinner. Because the narrator does not want the blind man into his house, he does little to welcome the visitor or make him comfortable (Carver Para. 3). There is total silence during the dinner. The narrator is more concerned with eating than engaging his visitor in a fruitful talk. When he says that they did not talk, it shows that he was more focused on eating. Also, the narrator is a domineering man; he has never entertained his wife’s idea relating to any other man; therefore, his wife’s relationship with the blind man leaves him suspicious.

The narrator lacks compassion and has a negative personality. At the beginning of the story, he says that a blind visitor visits them; this clearly shows how he despises blind people and how unhappy he is with the visit. Conventionally, the narrator should refer to the ‘blind man’ by his name, Robert, because he knows Robert by his name. However, the narrator is not at ease with the situation, for he feels that the blind man is intruding on his life.

After the dinner, he deliberately continues to describe what he sees on the television, being aware that the blind man cannot see; this is ridiculous because one would expect people to sympathize with the likes of Robert. The narrator’s insensitivity and probably hatred for the blind man come out when he gives Robert a paper and a pen to draw a cathedral; this is very rude because he knows his condition.

The narrator is flawed. He ought to address many serious issues in his life. For example, he struggles to continue a career that he does not like just because he cannot figure out how to quit. He smokes marijuana, drinks excessively, and lacks control of whatever he says. The narrator is very antisocial, as evidenced by his failure to share his frustration with anyone, including his wife. For example, he is not able to discuss Roberts’s case with his wife.

The cathedral, their subject of conversation with Robert, is a metaphor that allows us to see the character’s spiritual weakness. In the story, the writer portrays the cathedral as beautiful and inspiring to people through its architecture, design, and purpose. Hence, the cathedral is just a way of reaching the narrator to change his perception of life and consequently change his character. Fortunately, as the story closes, the narrator changes his character.

According to Bergson’s theory, time is the determinant factor for change. This theory significantly influences the narrator’s character in this novel. Initially, the narrator’s perception of the blind man is very negative, but in the end, he gains insight, and his eyes open.

The theme of blindness in this story is very significant to the narrator’s character. For example, when Robert requests the narrator to close his eyes and continue drawing, a thought crosses the narrator’s mind, and he changes the perception of life. He experiences a possible change in life. Finally, the narrator learns the goodness in Robert and has no reason to be suspicious of their relationship with his wife. His social life changes, including his marriage life.

Works Cited

Carver, Raymond. “The Cathedral.” Weekend Short Story, 2009. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Narrator in “The Cathedral” by Raymond Carver." December 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/narrator-in-the-cathedral-by-raymond-carver/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Narrator in “The Cathedral” by Raymond Carver." December 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/narrator-in-the-cathedral-by-raymond-carver/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Narrator in “The Cathedral” by Raymond Carver'. 29 December.

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