Blindness In Raymond Carver's Cathedral

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Blindness is a trait that can be applied to an assortment of scenarios. People can be blind to their feelings, blind to their addictions, or blind to the world around them. In “Cathedral”, written by Raymond Carver, blindness is shown in two people: Robert and the Narrator. Robert’s blindness is in the form of a physical blindness–the inability to use his eyes to see the world around him. This, however, does not inhibit him from experiencing the world around him, unlike the Narrator. The Narrator’s blindness comes from inability to experience the world around him, a curtain he pulls down to shield himself from anything he doesn’t deem “important” enough for him to try and understand. This draws a contrast between the two character’s …show more content…
It is at this point that the Narrator reaches out into “the unknown” and begins to truly connect with Robert. To contrast this, in the beginning of the story, when talking about Beulah’s death, Robert mentions he feels sorry for the blind man and Beulah “for a little bit. And then I found myself thinking what a pitiful life this woman must have led” (Carver, 3). The change of tone is seen here through what the Narrator says and thinks. Asking the question of knowing what a cathedral is opens the door that his mind wouldn’t open on page 3, the door that leads to empathy, connection, and understanding. After failing to explain what a cathedral is, the Narrator truly realizes what a lack of meaning he attributes to anything, be it cathedrals, relationships, or himself. Through drawing the cathedral with Robert with his eyes closed, he reaches a true epiphany - a moment of realization of what it feels like to connect with another human being, to experience what they feel. This realization, however, could only have been brought on by being in that state of unfamiliarity, where the only way to become familiar is to try and understand what it is you are experiencing. The final change of tone comes when the Narrator is at a loss for words in what he is experiencing, and says (regarding the drawing), “It’s really something” (Carver, 13). The Narrator’s blindness for human connection, empathy, and experience is at this point overcome, and the lens in which he views the world is forever

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