Buy Study Guide Summary "Cathedral" is narrated by a man whose wife has invited an old friend to visit their home. As the narrator and his wife live nearby, Robert arranged to visit, and is on his way. The wife had worked briefly for Robert a decade before in Seattle. They have kept in touch by mailing tapes to one another, on which each narrated his or her life in detail.

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Taken from his collection of the same name the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed man and from the beginning of the story the reader realises how detached the narrator is.

Not only is he displeased with the fact that Robert is visiting but the reader also senses that in some ways the narrator is also jealous of the connection that his wife has with Robert. The narrator also appears to have a very limited viewpoint on blindness.

For the first time he is seeing, rather than looking. It is as if the narrator prefers to be ignorant of what Robert might think of him, rather than hearing something that he may dislike. Again this could suggest a detachment from others. This is noticeable by the fact that she had previously attempted to write a poem about the incident of Robert touching her face. It is also interesting that the narrator appears to long for a similar connection with his wife.

As he is sitting listening to his wife talk to Robert, he waits, expecting to hear his name being mentioned, however it never is. In anything. The turning point in the story appears to be when the narrator and Robert are looking at some Cathedrals on the TV. It is obvious that despite his ability to see the Cathedrals, the narrator has difficulty in describing them to Robert and if anything he appears to be stuck for words in describing the Cathedrals.

By having the narrator stuck for words and unable to describe to Robert what a Cathedral looks like, Carver may be suggesting that the narrator, at least symbolically, is also blind.

It is also at this stage, as the narrator is drawing a Cathedral that the reader suspects that both the narrator and Robert are connecting in some way.

It may also be significant or symbolic that Carver uses the cannabis as a means of connecting both men. Some critics suggesting that it represents a communion between Robert and the narrator. Symbolically the Cathedral that the narrator draws is also significant. A Cathedral is a place for people to go and worship, to connect with God.

By drawing the Cathedral the narrator is in some ways also making a connection. For the first time he appears to be able to see. There is also a sense of irony at the end of the story. Carver never explains what it is the narrator sees, but there is the sense that he has found a connection and is no longer detached or isolated. Cite Post McManus, Dermot. The Sitting Bee, 3 Jan.

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Cathedral by Raymond Carver

It was first published in The Atlantic Monthly in We are relying on that version for this guide. Carver, often compared to Ernest Hemingway , is known for his bleak and stark portrayals of working-class people trapped in states of isolation. Critics and Carver himself see the story as a turning point in his writing because of its happy, hopeful ending. Kirk Nesset describes "Cathedral" as "a light note amid a tide of darker ones" source. Carver died at the age of fifty, in , just a few years after publishing his short story collection Cathedral. He received lots of other honors, fellowships, and awards, which you can read all about in this excellent chronology.


Cathedral Summary and Analysis of "Cathedral"

The narrator is clearly unhappy about the upcoming visit. He then flashes back to the story of how his wife met the blind man when she worked for him as a reader. At the time, she was engaged to marry an officer in the Air Force. When she tells the blind man goodbye, he asks if he can touch her face.


Cathedral (short story)




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