Raymond Carver’s Cathedral and Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son Essay

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Generally considered that the American Dream consists of a healthy family, a well-paying job and a sturdy home. A lot of people dream about it and use all their opportunities to achieve it. However, the socioeconomic situation of the United States is an obstacle to this ideal. The characters who inhabit Raymond Carver’s Cathedral are blue-collar Americans confused and illusioned by the hollow image of an American dream they see on the TV screen every night. Denis Johnson’s protagonists, however, have never heard of an American dream, and are certainly not devoted to achieving it; their lives slip by a state of alcoholism and drug use and futures become brutally shapeless. Their despairs and disappointments are displaced instead through …show more content…
When she realizes that the evil person who called is a baker, Ann and Howard drive to the shopping center. Shortly after Ann breaks down and tells the baker of the death of her son, their conversation flows. As he repents and apologizes, he confesses his misgivings and loneliness: “I’m sorry for your son… I don’t have any children myself”(). He offers them a consolation for the loss of their son; they accept the bread he offers them at midnight in his bakery and talk on with him into the early morning hours drifting to the point that “they did not think of leaving” (89). Even Carvarian characters that are usually socially isolated can manage come together in this devastating grief: “You have to eat and keep going. Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this” (Carver, 88). “In Carver’s world, obviously liberation is not a thing one finds and secures on one’s own. It necessarily involves influence or guidance of a fellow being,” Kirk Nesset confirms (52). The conclusion to “A Small, Good Thing” is sad and quiet, but nevertheless confirms that solace is possible in the simplest act of breaking bread and relating to other humans, however oddly or ironically the circumstance occurred. In “Fever,” philandering Eileen abandons her husband – a high

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