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Posted in Uncategorized by jgarcia1390 on the March 3, 2011

“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver is a short story depicting the story of a man (only known as narrator) and how he finds a new sense of fulfillment after meeting a handicapable friend of his wife. This friend, Robert, is blind and is invited over by the narrator’s wife to their home after the death of his wife. This in turn sets off a chain of events that prompt the narrator to think of himself and his situation in depth; hence his new found fulfillment. The title in this story does not relate to the plot of the story but does hold significance in that a cathedral is what signifies the man’s new state.
When first hearing about Robert’s situation, the narrator becomes reluctant to invite him into his home being that his wife was the childhood sweetheart of Robert. (Carver 94) But after his wife guilts him into agreeing to invite Robert over by saying “If you love me you, can do this for me” he eventually agrees to let Robert over. (Carver 95) After getting back from the train station, the narrator’s reluctance turns into full blown jealousy. While drinking, his wife and Robert are embroiled in conversation and despite his efforts to join the conversation, is only able to respond to questions meekly and abruptly.
The way Robert is feeling is synonymous with how a child feels as an infant. According to Yi-Fu Tuan “Children develop a strong sense of property, they become strongly possessive, and are quick to defend what they consider belongs to them.” (32) It is obvious that the narrator is subconsciously possessive over his wife and home; it is seen through his inhospitable feelings for Robert and jealousy of the friend he has with his wife.
When their night takes them from their conversation to the narrator’s living room to listen to the weather channel, we see that not much progress has been made among the three. The narrator still feels awkward and constantly asks Robert if he wants to go to bed. Robert declines the offers to stay up to talk with the narrator.
The scene in the living room proves the idea of spaciousness and crowding. According to Tuan, “conflicting activities create a sense of crowding.” (64) When left to entertain Robert by him, the narrator feels a sense of crowding in that he must deal with how awkward the situation is, keeping Robert company, and being invested in what he is seeing on TV.
The narrator then changes the channel and lands on a show that talks about the middle ages. The show talks of cathedrals and since Robert is blind, the narrator is forced to explain what they look like to him. After having much difficulty, the narrator realizes that he does not do an adequate job of doing so and again feels awkward. Robert, realizing that the narrator is having difficulty explaining propositions the narrator to draw a cathedral for him while he follows along with his hands.
This is the catalyst for the narrator’s new found fulfillment. While drawing the narrator becomes engrossed in what he is doing and finds much enjoyment doing so. It is easy to see here that he now finds comfort in Robert being in his home rather than the awkwardness he felt before. After he is done, the narrator does not even need to look at his drawing to see that he has indeed created something beautiful without looking at it.
At the end of the story when the narrator says, “I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything,” marks the fulfillment that he feels. (Carver 103) According to Tuan, “out of a crowded room a feeling of warmth and tolerance can be created.” (65) The narrator does exactly so throughout the story.

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