Cathedral is a short story that written by an American poet, Raymond Carver. This story is about a blind man who goes to visit her long lost friend. The story has been used to criticize certain vices in society such as underrating the people who are blind. In this story, the narrator has corrupted stereotypes at first about blind people. It later turns out that the narrator is the one who is blind with the challenge that comes along in their modes of thinking. The blind person shows that he has a positive view that is better than that of the narrator. Claude uses Irony to articulate his message in this story. The blind man sees things and life issues in a new light as opposed to the narrator who is so indifferent and confined to the limitations of his small world. This story is so relevant in real life.

This book begins with the narrator talking about a blind friend of his wife, who was coming to visit them. The narrator appears upset about the upcoming visit.  A flash back of how her wife met the blind man then follows.  This shows the prejudice that the bride people in the society suffer today. According to the narration, the wife worked for the blind man as a reader for all summer long. At the time the wife was meeting the blind man, he was married to a military man. After the summer, before the narrator’s wife had left, the blind man asked her to allow him to touch her face (Carver 2009). The touch of the fingers by the blind man is so mysterious and it a memorable moment in her life. This is something that the narrator does not comprehend. The narrator’s wife even wrote a poem that was trying to explain the feeling she experienced during the touch. In the poem, she tries to explain the thoughts that were in her mind at that  time.

The narrator’s wife and the blind man had managed to keep contact for ten years, and this was the supremely first time that the blind man would meet the wife of the narrator after her remarrying. This is because the narrator’s wife had divorced her former husband who was a military man and she was married by the narrator. Robert, who was the blind man, had just lost his wife, and he would be travelling to visit her late wife’s family. Robert intends to spend the night at the home of the narrator and his wife on his way to Connecticut. The wife describes to the narrator how the blind man and his wife loved each other so much. In deed, he said they were inseparable. The narrator tries to imagine how fearful it was for Beluah not to have been seen by the man who loved her so much.

When Robert arrives at the Narrator’s home, he is welcomed. The narrator watches them as he joins in their conversations occasionally. They are all served with a delicious strawberry pie meal and the y drink heavily. They drink even more after dinner, and the narrator continues to observe the blind man and her wife. Her wife is not comfortable when they drink so much; she is also dismayed by the fact that they even smoke Marijuana together. Later, the wife of the narrator fall a sleep and the Narrator and Robert are left alone only with the television set. Since the blind man cannot understand what is transpiring in the TV, the narrator tries to explain to him everything that he sees. A documentary of a Cathedral is then shown in the TV, and the narrator is unable to describe the Cathedral to James. Robert asks the narrator to look for a pen and a paper so that they could draw the Cathedral together. The narrator does exactly as he is instructed by James and gives James a paper and a pen (Bloom 2009). James tries to draw the cathedral as the narrator describes it to him. When Robert draws the Cathedral, he holds his hand on the narrator’s hand in an attempt to create a mental picture for James. They draw on and on as the narrator describes the nature of the Cathedral. Finally, Robert tells the Narrator to open his eyes but the narrator keeps hem closed. Something mysterious occurs to him so that it changes the narrator’s perception of life. The narrator too describes that moment as nothing else in his entire life. The narrator describes that he knew he was in his house but did not think he was inside anything. His life changed thereafter, and the narrator did not even notice Robert’s blindness. At the end of this short story, the Narrator is the blind one. This is because his eyes closed metaphorically at the Insight of the blind man.

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Thematic Concerns

The primary concern of this story is fear and dislike of the blind people. The author of this story at first introduces the story without giving the blind man a name. This shows that the blindness of James was the only thing the narrator cared about, and that is why he did not call him his name at first during this narration. In fact, the narrator confesses openly that; “ It bothered me that he was blind.” The narrator expresses dislike for the blind people since they walk using canes they walk slowly they do not laugh and they walk with Seeing Eye dogs. When he narrator meets the blind man, all his Ideas and perceptions about the blind are changed. His stereotype falls away slowly with close interaction with the blind visitor who was his wife’s friend (Society for the Study of the Short Story 2001).

The importance of self awareness has also been stipulated in this short story. James understands that he is blind and accepts this visual state. He is confident in his relationship with other people. James uses his sense of touch confidently in quite a number of ways.  He touches the narrator’s wife’s face in a manner that is unforgettable to her and makes a significant moment of her life. The blind man squeezes the narrator’s hand when he first meets him. This is a clear indicator that touch can be tremendously powerful. It also shows that a person can “see” in different ways, and there is no need to despise someone or prejudge him just because they are blind. Also, when the narrator was thinking about how the narrator had been married to someone who he had never seen. The theme of love is also brought home by this point considering that the two were inseparable. James’ wife had loved him when he was still blind, and his blindness did not conquer her undying love for him. It does not mean that the blind man had not “seen” her wife for his entire life. The only issue of contention is that spiritual vision is stronger than physical vision.

Carver also uses the narrator to warn against the vice of jealousy. The narrator is Jealous of the first husband of her wife. He is also envious of his wife’s friendship with the blind man. The narrator is used to Marijuana and this regular use of drugs and jealousy makes the narrator suffer high levels of depression and sadness. The use of the Cathedral in the story is also symbolic of a theme in the story. This is the theme of spiritual nourishment.  The cathedral showed on the TV shows that the narrator needs spiritual awakening. The subject of their conversation is the Cathedral, and it serves to appeal to the narrator making him see things differently. It is Ironical to have the blind man helping the narrator to see. Also, the Marijuana which should have helped the narrator’s mind to relax made him sleepy, instead of opening the narrators mind, it closed it (Shmoop 2010). This is extremely ironical. The experience that serving to open the narrators mind occurred without drugs. It occurred when the narrator closed his eyes with one way of thinking, and he began to see issues differently.

Husband animosity has also been covered in this story. This theme has been shown by the narrator’s comments and thinking processes a bout the blind visitor. The narrator makes misguided comments about the coming blind man; little does he know that he is the one who is blind. In their interaction with the visitor, it is so vivid and clear that the visitor can see beyond blindness. The narrator captures a unique spirit when they are seated together with paper and ink, drawing a structure of a cathedral.


The characters used in this story have been used to appeal to people’s love life, work environs and their personal identities. The narrator in this story has a moment of revelation, and the author of this story is highly praised for this. The narrator in this story gains insight figuratively and literally. Carver is known for his ability to make stories appear as easy as possible without excluding the complex meaning which require considerable cognitive reasoning. The life lessons that are taught in this story is deep and highly meaningful to and individual especially to maintain social relationships. In fact, at one point the blind man says, “Learning never ends.”

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