Raymond Carver, "Cathedral Essay

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Then Robert -- who has realized his blindness is clearly a source of fascination (if not disgust) on the narrator's part -- suggests that the narrator draw with his eyes closed. Robert will get some sensation of what a cathedral might look like, and now the narrator will get some sense of what it's like to be blind. And the story ends with Robert's final question to the narrator after they have finished sketching a cathedral blind, and holding hands:

"Well?" he said. "Are you looking?"

My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything.

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Essay on Raymond Carver, "Cathedral" Raymond Carver's Assignment

This muted final moment clearly links up to Robert's earlier remark that the builders of cathedrals "didn't live to see" their work. The narrator here has made a cathedral of sorts with Robert -- not just the drawing on the paper bag, but also the very human connection that these two men are able to forge. I think that is the suggestion for both the weird dislocation in place that the narrator feels with his eyes closed -- "I was in my house…But I didn't feel like I was inside anything," which seems to hint that the house itself has become its own site for acts of communion, forgiveness and redemption. The narrator's refusal to open his eyes here suggests the inability to see their work completed that characterized cathedral-builders. But the final line is a deliberate lie told to Robert, yet I think we are meant to see it as the inverse of the narrator's excessive frankness earlier. But by the end of the story, I think there has been an epiphany of human connection between the narrator and Robert. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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