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Review of Raymond Carver's Short Story ‘Cathedral’

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‘Cathedral’ by Raymond Carver is a rather prolonged short story about a blind man. The blind was invited to spend some time with a long-time friend and her husband after he had experienced the loss of a loved one. The narrator of the story happens to be the wife’s husband who isn’t particularly friends the blind man named Robert. For some odd reason he isn’t named throughout the story. The narrator was blinded by prejudice, and lack of knowledge on blind people. He was literally blinded by his prejudice.

At the beginning of the story the narrator spoke in a very blunt manner. This helped set the scene on how the narrator would first be acting at the beginning of the story. The narrator was not very fond on having Robert stay with him and his wife for the reason being Robert is blind. He had a fixed mindset on how blind people act, or at least how he thought they were and acted.

At the beginning of the story the narrator's thoughts were displayed to the readers for us to the readers to see his distinct thoughts on blind people. “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to” (Carver, 1). The narrator was pretty honest on telling us the reader on how he felt about Robert, and the situation he believed his wife was forcing onto him and herself. He had an exact outlook on what he expected of the blind man, and he would look and be like. This showed the lack of knowledge of the husband. He was trying to associate what he saw in movies with how he expected the blind man to be like. He made assumptions that blinded him from the reality: just because the man is blind doesn’t mean what he saw in movies should be what he should expect. He started to create this view on blind people that caused him to make himself.

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Throughout the story the narrator barely addressed Robert by his name. He would keep calling him the blind man. This is also somewhat a form of discrimination. The author was trying to convey the message on how the narrator treated Robert differently by calling him the blind man, the narrator didn’t really seem to notice either. He acted as if the man had no name or just in general was pointing out the ‘negative’ aspects of the man or so he thought. The narrator the went on and said: “I remembered having read somewhere that the blind didn’t smoke because, as speculation had it, they couldn’t see the smoke they exhaled. I thought I knew that much and that much only about blind people. But this blind man smoked his cigarette down to the nubbin and then lit another one. This blind man filled his ashtray and my wife emptied it” (Carver, 6). At this point the narrator is getting to the point where his lack of knowledge is not just prejudice, but also extremely disrespectful. By him saying that he read it somewhere was supposed to be some kind of justification yet it only made it look worse on his part. Instead of going into meeting Robert with an open mind, and readiness to learn the author went in with the little knowledge he had insulting the Him in his head.

The author then went on to the end of the story, trying to help the narrator have a new view on blind people. Robert tried making the narrator describe to him what a cathedral looked like. Although the narrator had seen a cathedral many times, he was unable to describe it to Robert. This made the narrator understand a bit of what a blind person has to deal with.

Carver used the fact one of the main characters was an actual blind, helping a man fully aware and capable of seeing to really see his prejudice towards blind people. He used the blind man also known as Robert, to open his friend’s husband’s eyes, although he wasn't medically blind, he was blind on what a blind man should be like. He made assumptions and created this mindset that he was unaware of, and also made him unaware of the possibilities. He had a fixed mindset of a sort.

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Review of Raymond Carver’s Short Story ‘Cathedral’. (2023, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“Review of Raymond Carver’s Short Story ‘Cathedral’.” Edubirdie, 08 Sept. 2023,
Review of Raymond Carver’s Short Story ‘Cathedral’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Feb. 2024].
Review of Raymond Carver’s Short Story ‘Cathedral’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 08 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from:
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