Carver's "Cathedral" an Analysis Essay

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[. . .] The plot is simple enough -- deceptively simple, in fact (gently luring the reader as well as the character of the host to a sort of revelation). It begins with the blind man -- a friend of the narrator's wife -- coming to stay. The television shows a picture of a cathedral (a symbol itself of old world spirituality); the blind man asks his host to describe it. The host, at a loss of words (personifying the minimalism for which Carver was known and the emptiness and vacuity of the modern Everyman), fails to fully explain to the blind man what the cathedral looks like -- or, rather, what it is. Indeed, after a period of reflection, the host himself asks the blind man, "Do you have any idea what a cathedral is?" (Carver "Cathedral"). The host admits to having no religion (and it is his point-of-view that the reader is inclined to accept). By way of response, the blind man asks him to draw the cathedral -- and then takes the man's hands in his own and asks him to close his eyes as he does so.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Carver's "Cathedral" an Analysis of Assignment

Suddenly, a new world is revealed to the narrator: it is a world within a world -- a world that he has never thought about before. It is a spiritual world, where external sight does not matter, but where internal sight does. This sudden and unexpected use of his imagination has allowed him to transcend his surroundings and see with a spiritual eye: "It's really something," he says (Carver "Cathedral"). The narrator may not come to any revelations of who he is (that would entail a much larger work), but as in a Flannery O'Connor story, the protagonist is brought to the brink of a revelation -- or, rather, to the start of a journey. The bringing of the narrator to the starting line is the whole of the plot. It begins with the host somewhere outside the realm of spiritual vision, it proceeds with the blind man teaching him how to see without seeing, and it ends with the host finally "seeing." The shortness of the narrative and the double theme of "blindness" allow this to happen. It is a kind of shortcut to the heart of the matter, emphasizing that there is a heart of the matter. Exactly what it is must be saved for another story -- or for deeper meditation.

In conclusion, "Cathedral" uses a thematic plot about a man compelled to draw a cathedral with his eyes closed to tell a story that is more deeply about the loss of external sight and the gaining of internal or spiritual sight. Carver delivers scenes of startling abruptness -- and yet the ideas that linger and haunt call us to greater depths than what we first thought possible. Such short stories free us from the "penitentiary" of novel-length narratives, and act as shortcuts to revelations.

Works Cited

Carver, Raymond. "Cathedral." 1983. Web. 25 Sept 2012.

Carver, Raymond. "On Writing." Mississippi Review, vol. 14, no. 1/2 (Winter, 1985), pp.

46-51). Print.

O'Connor, Flannery. The Habit of Being.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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