March 15, 2012
More Than the Eyes Can See
“Cathedral” begins with the narrator introducing his wife’s friend, Robert, who is coming to the narrators’ house to spend the night. He had recently lost his wife and the narrators’ wife had invited him to visit her after years of separation. She had met Robert when she landed a job to read to a blind man and they kept in touch through tapes, even after she left the job. The narrator was not looking forward to meeting Robert because his idea of a blind man came from the movies, which showed that they moved slowly and rarely laughed. As the story unfolds, the narrator begins to have a different opinion about the blind. Raymond Carver uses symbolism, characterization, and an involved narrative point of view to show the difference between being able to see something and being able to understand what the real meaning of it is. As the story evolves, the characteristics of the narrator begin to change as he interacts with Robert. The author shows symbolism throughout the story that relates to each of the characters. An example is the twenty-peso coin, which Robert kept half of and the other half went into the box with his wife, Beulah. The coin was a symbol of their marriage and relationship that ended due to the death of Beulah caused by cancer. The coin is a substitute for Beulah so he can remember her and connect with her symbolically. The tapes that the narrators’ wife and Robert shared, were also symbolic to them because they kept in touch for years without being face to face. Once they met and gave each other company, Robert says, “This beats tapes, doesn’t it (714)?” which distinguishes the difference between the real thing and the substitute. The main example of symbolism in the story “Cathedral,” is the cathedral itself. The narrator sees a cathedral on TV and asks Robert if he knows what it looks like. Robert asks him to draw it for him and that is when the narrator begins...
Cited: Carver, Raymond. “Cathedral.” Literature for Composition: Essays, Stories, Poems, and Plays Ninth Edition (2011): 709-718. Print.
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