Cathedral critique


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Carver (1983), in his article, "Cathedral" which was at first published as a short story in the Atlantic Monthly in March, 1981. By then it became an important title story in 1983. In this story, we find out that Carver tries to focus on the daily events in the life of certain characters. However, couples or relationships between families are his main subjects and he tries to show the readers what these characters experience in their daily life. And to understand what Carver is trying to show in this story, we must analyze the events in order to understand the main scope of the story. In other words, the meaning of the story is not shown due to hidden gaps; therefore, the reader must analyze the text in order to understand the signs the author leaves. The author's main argument in this essay was emphasizing the fact that people who lost some of their senses still can see things deeper, evaluate situations wiser, and feel stronger than many other normal people who have all their senses. Just like the blind man in this essay who seemed to us more thoughtful and attentive comparing to the other contributing characters despite his loss of sight and that was illustrated when the narrator said "my eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything" (p. 68). At the beginning of the story, the narrator is somehow fearful and uncomfortable of what is happening between the blind man and his wife; and lately in the story, the view is now complete for him and by the help of the blind man started to see what was hidden for him.

Carver, in his article discussed how a wife can threaten a marriage by having a relationship for more than ten years with a man who is blind. From the husband's side, he showed a negative attitude towards the blind man thinking that his wife is totally taking care of him forgetting that he didn't show the respect and treatment needed to a normal wife. The husband at first was jealous of his wife's friendship with the blind man, but gradually the husband's attitude towards the blind man changes. Although the blind man had one sense less, but on the other hand was capable of seeing what is around him and what others felt. And by the end of the story, the husband realizes that he was the one who is blind, blind in judging the people with they are, not their disabilities.

By analyzing each personality in the article, I do not think that the author was clear enough in showing what he feels toward the blind man and toward the blind's man relation with his wife. This feels a bit frustrating as we are as readers were interested to know how the husband's feeling would feel like toward such a relation. However, there were some conflicts between the narrator and his wife. They both didn't have strong communication and their relationship was full of insecurities. The wife was the concept, which demonstrates a person seeking for understanding and indulgence by another new relation, which was her relation with the blind man. The narrator's wife was married before, she thought of suicide once in the past and now she is having many difficulties with her husband. The narrator in my point of view is a shallow feeler, not comparable to his wife despite his love to her. The narrator has a wrong idea about blind people. He gets this wrong idea from movies where he sees blind people moving slowly and never laughing (Carver, 1983). On the other hand, the author presents Robert as an opposite character of the narrator. This character is Robert, who has an accurate view of life based on morals and not appearances. The blind man exemplified the example of the guidance and the feeler. The voice in this article was really strong and effective not only for the audiences of it who are people see like us, but also to all people who may read this piece of writing.

The author is known for his usage of symbolic language. Naturally the author makes Robert call the narrator "Bub". The author's intention behind using the word " Bub" maybe to make the narrator show how "Bub" is a sign of evilness. The author successfully let Robert positively change the gaps the author left in the passage in perspective which shows through his lack of description. The narrator runs out of words when he starts describing the cathedral. He excuses himself by saying "I am just not good at it" (Carver, 1983, p.66). Robert asks the narrator to draw the cathedral while closing his eyes, teaches him to explain things without even speaking. Robert let the narrator see the cathedral more significantly, and more detailed; and, this is clear when the narrator says: "My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything. It's really something, 'I said" (Carver, 1983, p.68). In the story, each man helps the other to see what the other could not see. In my opinion, I think this help probably implies coordination for creation. In Addition, The Cathedral is a religious icon. Religion could be implied through the blind man's character. He does not allow his blindness to To have an effect on the quality of life he lives.

Readers can easily figure out the moral of the story. Going through the events, the readers can learn that healthy eyes are not enough for people to see life from a right perspective. What is interesting about the author's message is that he states it ironically and behind each ironical statement lays a purpose. The narrator's purpose behind the irony of how the healthy eyed narrator turns to be the blind from inside, while the blind man turns to be the one with the powerful eyes where he can imagine things the narrator himself doesn't imagine.. These arguments and purposes are meant for all people who have eyes to see appearances but lack the vision of what is beyond those appearances. The author's choice of the title is significant, Cathedral as a itself as a title has more than one meaning which makes the story enhanced with plenty descriptions.

The author's message is effectively expressed in the story. His representation of the types of blindness through the characters was persuading and successfully represented. The cathedral is a great choice of a symbol as he used it as a tool that tests people's awareness of morals. On the other hand, the author's usage of "Bub" probably sounds meaningless. I think that the author did achieve his goal by putting the narrator in an evil portrait. Even though the narrator showed a negative attitude towards the blind man and has a narrow view of life does not mean that he is evil. Most people with healthy eyes are unaware of the stereotype they have about blind people and they will not refuse to learn what the narrator has learnt!

All in all, Cathedral is a story that pulls you in by its descriptions and events and its deep implied morals and themes. The author successfully tries to connect the events in story although he left some gaps to the reader to understand. He solves most of the conflicts in the story by showing that people should be aware their inner abilities and their qualities of life and not of their exterior image.


  • Carver, R. (1983)Cathedral. In B. Lewis (ed.), Majlis Of the Others (pp.56-68).

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