Term Paper: Cathedral - Raymond Carver

Pages: 10 (3090 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Thus, his dead hostility was rooted in the blind man's connection in regard to his wife's past and of her independent nature in overall aspects that were threatening to him, which not the least was her former marriage, to which he was always obsessed. At the same time fascinated by and reluctant to hear the blind man's story as he said "my wife filled me in with more details than I cared to know. I made a drink and sat at the kitchen table to listen" (213) he looked for himself indirectly in his wife's relationship with the bind friend (Tom, 1987).

His sense of a secure identity depended upon his bond with a female who was his wife, a bond he seemed to need to see continually reinforced. Although, troubled by his thoughtlessness, his wife did not provide him the reinforcement he longed for. Referring to his wife's conversation with the bind man in the living room, he said, "I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife's sweet lips" (218).

His confused search for his own self involved a repeated measuring as well as protecting of the autocratic status of his name, as he was adamant upon asserting his identity over his wife. Thus, in order to do this he covered her past the way he had covered his own present with insulating self-absorbency.

And in order to sum up her earlier life, he referred to his wife's ex-husband only as her "officer," and says, "Why should he have a name?" (211). However, the blind man himself dealt with pain and sadness as he just lost his wife; "I know about skeletons," he said (223).

In response to the narrator's query regarding the TV since the narrator failed to explain the image he saw on television, Robert listened, and due to failure in understanding, took charge of the situation and said:

Hey, listen to me. Will you do me a favor? I got an idea. Why don't you find us some heavy paper? And a pen. We'll do something. We'll draw one together. Get us a pen and some heavy paper. Go on, bub, get the stuff" (226) (Saltzman, 1988).

Thus, Robert's initiative in the matter of the narrator's failings, as suggested by the author in the story to his readers that that verbal handicaps as well as the larger problems are being the symptoms of incapacitating as blindness. Therefore, Robert's handling of the situation advised finally that handicaps were first and foremost challenges to overcome (Franklin Center, 1988).

Other short stories in the book

Small, Good Thing

Plot, theme, characters

Small, Good Thing, is another short story that appeared in Cathedral. It is a story about a pleasant young couple whose boy was shortly to have a birthday. However, in the time period, the parents ordered a cake from a somewhat morose baker, but before the birthday could be celebrated the boy was injured in an accident and the parents had to watch weakly as their son dies. In the meantime the baker, being some kind of evil spirit of harassment, kept calling the parents to pick up the ordered cake. Thus, here the first part of the story ended abruptly with the baker calling again and again.

Coming to the second part of the story, which was almost three times as long, moves further more than the ending of the first. Here the parents finally visit the baker, rebuking him for his phone calls and informed him about the death of their son. Upon which the baker answered;

Let me say how sorry I am. God knows how sorry. Listen to me. I'm just a baker. I don't claim to be anything else. Maybe once, maybe years ago, I was a different kind of human being.... Forgive me if you can. I'm not an evil man, I don't think. Not evil, like you said.... I don't know how to act anymore" (Saltzman, 1988).

Having some soft corner, he offered the parents some hot rolls and said;

Eating, is a small good thing in a time like this." thus, ending the story:

They swallowed the dark bread. It was like daylight under the fluorescent rays of light. They talked on into the early morning, the high pale cast of light in the windows, and they did not think of leaving." (Lonnquist).

The second part of the story was less orderly and glittering, but reached more deeply into a human situation and changed the baker from an abstract 'evil force' into a flawed human creature. On the other hand the first version, was a little like second-rank Hemingway, and the second a bit like Sherwood Anderson at his best.

Analysis of the story of human emotions, in which a son gets killed by an accidental car before his birthday and while he fought for his life in the hospital, his mother kept on answering the calls of an angry baker who made a birthday cake and waned it to be picked (Lonnquist).

Now here's a story where a reader might expect the characters to watch the dreadful sunrise and beg to Lord to help them. But since the story is a late Carver story, the dynamics have changed. Thus, rather than of despair, A Small, Good Thing ended when the parents finally meet this angry baker, which goes like this:

Smell this," the baker said, "It's a heavy bread, but rich" who opened a dark loaf into two. The parents smelled it, and then he had them taste it that contained the taste of molasses and coarse grains. They listened to him and ate what they could. That is they swallowed the dark bread, which was similar to daylight under the fluorescent trays of light (Saltzman, 1988).

Furthermore, in A Small, Good Thing, a reader may find some similarity with the author's other short stories in the Cathedral that bought together the lives infact somewhat more disparate lives, although problems not less serious (Lonnquist).

Thus, the tale is about a couple dealing with the loss of a child, and of the comfort they find finally, unevenly, in the company of a baker. It is a story about the way fear and worry and sorrow caused people to break out of the usual, lagging, self-preoccupations of their lives, and about how the narratives of others can look after the violent unsettling such breakouts that bring on (Saltzman, 1988).

Where I'm Calling From Plot, theme, characters

Where I'm Calling From, involves listening, as characters enter for a short time into the lives of others through channels of verbal communication. In this story, has tow main key characters Ann and Howard Weiss, who were at the same time more stable and more emotionally vulnerable than the remaining characters J.P. And his friend (Franklin Center, 1988).

Since the story reminds a larger sense of affirmation on the whole, in spite of its theme, the therapeutic aspects of thoughtful listening were infact more obvious. The author Carver has produced a richness and hopefulness unequalled in other stories of his. He has provided his readers in core an answer to the failures his characters that have been subject to all the time failures in stories (Franklin Center, 1988).

Thus, to this new completeness of likelihood, the effect of this story itself increased to new proportions that reflected on the level of narrative the kind of psychological as well as spiritual growth took place within the story.

Analysis of the story

As the unidentified narrator said of Howard Weiss:

So far, he had kept away from any real harm, from those forces he knew existed and that could cripple or bring down a man if the luck went bad, if things suddenly turned" (62).

In this story both Howard and his wife were like improving alcoholics but were troubled by the physical consequences of their dealings with an unreasonable, overwhelming problem, in front of which reasonableness was useless. However, a bit of bad luck turned their secure and self-enclosed family world inside out (Verley, 1989).

Being the main key character of the story, Ann appeared both more worried and more sensitive than her husband. Thus, regardless of the strength of her preoccupation in their days-long vigil, she briefly glimpses the walls around her (Franklin Center, 1988).

For the first time she felt they were together in it, this trouble," the narrator said, while explaining Ann's understanding after many hours in the hospital (68). She understood finally that had closed herself off to everything but her son and his condition, and also finally recognized that she "hadn't let Howard into it, though he was there and needed all along. She felt glad to be his wife." Thus, the story has more optimistic and rich ending rather than… [END OF PREVIEW]

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