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Raymond Carver Cathedral Research Paper

… Raymond Carver Cathedral

Raymond Carver was a working class author made famous mostly for his short fiction, which was given the genre title of minimalist. His work is reflective of the lives of everyday people, including communication, miscommunication and connectivity.

Raymond Carver has often been described as a "minimalist" writer, one who renders moments of contemporary American life in a language that is spare in expression and bleak in outlook. Implicit in this labeling is the notion that his stories lack any transformative vision, that they present to us tales of alcoholics and losers as though blind, serf-destructive behaviors were matters of naturalistic fact and not subject to change through the insight stories can provide to their characters and their readers. Carver's early critics, notably…. [read more]

Cathedral by Raymond Carver Research Paper

… Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral" is considered to be one of the writer's best writings and is probably one of the main reasons for which he experienced professional progress. Even with the fact that this particular text ends in a more positive note in comparison to some of his other stories, it is nonetheless filled with elements characteristic to the writer. The writer himself appears to be especially confident that this story is different from his earlier works and involves a lot more hope in writing it. "Cathedral" contains ideas related to the importance of connecting with one another, understanding, and addiction.

Carver was born in a dysfunctional family in Clatskanie, Oregon, and spent the early part of his life struggling to earn a living…. [read more]

Raymond Carver's Short Story "Cathedral Essay

… This is evident in the ways the narrator describes the cathedrals on television purely in terms of their architectural forms and functions, and also in the way the blind man unapologetically states that he does not know what the difference is between a Catholic cathedral and a protestant church. The narrator tries to explain, and states, "n those olden days, when they built cathedrals, men wanted to be close to God. In those olden days, God was an important part of everyone's life. You could tell this from their cathedral- building," (section 101). Thus, the narrator categorically distances himself from those "olden days" when God was "important." The blind man also agrees tacitly that God and religion are no longer necessary for an individual to…. [read more]

Raymond Carver's Short Story "The Cathedral Term Paper

… Raymond Carver's short story "The Cathedral" discusses with regard to how the majority of people are inclined to express ignorance concerning other people's experiences. Furthermore, the story emphasizes that it is especially easy for someone to believe that society's perspective is the correct perspective. The narrator constantly tries to justify his behavior and his thinking by relating to how it is perfectly normal for him to do so. As a consequence, readers are likely to accept that social acceptance can influence some individuals to lose their personal identity and their connection with themselves.

The narrator's wife has a tumultuous background and this makes it difficult for the narrator to host one of her old friends into his house. In spite of the fact that the…. [read more]

Symbolism of Raymond Carver's "Cathedral Essay

… Maybe it was just as well. I'd heard all I wanted to. (2)

Again, this seems to mimic the structure of adultery without having the actual content of adultery. The husband finds himself offended by the fact that his wife has told her old friend about her new marriage. There is nothing untoward here, but in some sense the narrator does not need to know the blind man's opinion of him, which is (of course) precisely where the dialogue cuts off in aposiopesis. The narrator "heard all [he] wanted to" presumably because he is jealous -- of his wife's level of intimacy with another man.

As a result, the husband's behavior during the blind man's visit begins with petulant jealousy, which is held at arm's…. [read more]

Raymond Carver Term Paper

… Knopf. Lish himself argues that he shaped Carver's earlier work and that the substantive differences in the two parts of his career reflect not his soboriety but the difference between his own hand alone and that guided by Lish.

The details varied from telling to telling, but the basic idea was that he had changed some of the stories so much that they were more his than Carver's.

No one quite knew what to make of his statements. Carver, who died in 1988, never responded in public to them. Basically it was Lish's word against commonsense. Lish had written fiction, too. If he was such a great talent, why did so few people care about his work?

As the years passed, Lish became reluctant to…. [read more]

Cathedral - Raymond Carver Term 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…. [read more]

Carver's "Cathedral" an Analysis Essay

… 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…. [read more]

Raymond Carver, "Cathedral Essay

… 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.

"It's really something," I said.

This muted final moment clearly links up to Robert's earlier remark that…. [read more]

Shannon Raymond Carver's "Cathedral Essay

… The husband is depicted as one who can only look, but Robert, despite being blind can see and have a clear vision of the wife to Bub

This ability to see rather than just look is again shown at the end of the story when Robert asks Bub to describe a cathedral. Bub strives to describe the cathedral to no positive concrete answer that he could give Robert, yet he had seen a cathedral on TV and he actually was the one who began the cathedral conversation. It is until the blind Robert holds his hands and helps him draw a cathedral that he can clearly see a cathedral and indeed at the end he gets lost into tranquility like no other there before. A…. [read more]

Raymond Carver Was Born Term Paper

… Bibliography

About the Author. Poem. Raymond Carver." The Borzoi Reader Web site. URL:

Byles, Melissa. "Richard Ford on Raymond Carver." The New Yorker. October 5, 1998. Off Course Web site. URL:

Dirda, Michael. "Stylists and Visionaries: 25 Years of American Fiction." Washington Post. June 1, 1997. Washingtonpost Web site. URL:

Houghton, Gerald. "The Edge-Index: Where I'm Calling From." The Edge Online. URL:

Kakutani, Michiko. "Raymond Carver and the Kitchen Sink." The New York Times. January 16, 2001. The New York Times On The Web: Books. URL:

McInerney, Jay. "Raymond Carver: A Still, Small Voice." The New York Times. August 6, 1989. The New York Times On The Web: Books. URL:

Raymond Carver's Double Life." Literature: Contemporary. About Web…. [read more]

Raymond Carver Is a Writer Term Paper

… In the story "Popular Mechanics" a husband and wife fight over a baby. This begins as a war of words but ends in a physical tugging match for the baby, one that the wife eventually loses, feeling the baby being torn away from her. This is a good example of how Carver implies a much greater significance to a single event. Clearly, the fight over the baby is an emotional one, but it also represents the pain of losing a child through marital problems. Carver does not have to express this implicitly for the reader to understand the pain and significance wrapped up in this single event. Alcoholism is also a common theme, being part of "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,"…. [read more]

Raymond Carver's "Cathedral Essay

… ¶ … Raymond Carver's "Cathedral," which is written in first person, and Ernest Hemingway's "Hills like White Elephants," which is written in the third person point-of-view. The author quotes appropriately from both stories to illustrate the various points, and the brief essay is well-constructed. The thesis statement is clear and there are good transition sentences between paragraphs. In particular, the writer focuses on the impact of point-of-view on setting and characterization.

For example, the writer asserts that using first person in "Cathedral" enables the reader to get into the head of its protagonist, whereas in "Hills like White Elephants," the reader requires extra descriptive elements to make up for the lack of intimacy of the third person point-of-view. The writer then notes that point-of-view also…. [read more]

Compare and Contrast Raymond Carver's Cathedral and Careful Term Paper

… ¶ … Raymond Carver's "Cathedral" and "Careful"

Attention K-Mart Shoppers": Raymond Carver will be chronicling your lives.

Raymond Carver is often called the founder of the so-called K-mart school of realism. Although, geographically, some of Carver's most famous stories like "Cathedral" and "Careful" do not take place in actual K-Marts, his style of writing is given this label because of his spare style, and the socioeconomic class of most of his protagonists. His protagonists are frequently down on their luck, often drink far too much, and have an air of despair about them, for definable or indefinable reasons. Carver's women and men struggle to communicate, and fail in their marriages. They seem to quietly rage with a sense of powerlessness against the world. This frequently…. [read more]

Cathedral, a Story by Raymond Term Paper

… Further, Cathedral is written in what may be considered an almost minimalist style. There are no long, flowery descriptions. Instead, descriptions of the characters and settings are clean and crisp. The result is a story that reveals its characters and themes deeply and clearly.

The theme of the story, despite the minimalist and austere style, is uplifting and positive. At the end, the prejudiced husband's superficial thinking is changed by the blind man's touch. He becomes more empathetic and forgiving, and sets aside his prejudice. Thus, one of the themes of The Cathedral is that prejudice can be healed by simple human contact, and by love.

Perhaps in a broader sense, though, the theme of The Cathedral is that simple human interaction can give us…. [read more]

Carver Given Poet and Author Raymond Term Paper

… Carver

Given poet and author Raymond Carver's life's history, it comes as no surprise that his works consist of the raw and often severe existence of the blue collar worker, yet their innate ability to be resilient and find a way to rise above their circumstances. Born in the mill town of Clatskanie on the Columbia River in Oregon in 1938, Carver's alcoholic father had rode the rails from Arkansas to Washington state during the dust-bowl days of the 1930s and then made his living as a sawmill worker. His mother, Ella Casey Carver, who suffered as a victim of domestic violence, supplemented the family income by working as a waitress and retail clerk. Carver's 1986 poem "Shiftless" summarizes the story of his childhood: "The…. [read more]

Cathedral Raymond Carver Term Paper

… The narrator is not sympathetic to the blind man's loss of his wife, and characterizes their relationship as pathetic. In attempting to talk with the blind man, the narrator is awkward, and struggles to find the right thing to say. He attempts to make small talk, but his wife criticizes his questions.

As the night moves on, the narrator becomes more open to the blind man. He is amazed by the man's ability to manipulate his food, and begins to engage the man in conversation about scotch. It is as the narrator and the blind man watch a television show about cathedrals that the blind man and the narrator begin to really connect. The narrator describes the film to the blind man, and is initially…. [read more]

Tracing a Theme Through Three Short Stories Essay

… ¶ … Archibald the Arctic," "The Cathedral," "Reunion"

Michael Winter's "Archibald the Arctic," Raymond Carver's "The Cathedral," and John Cheever's "Reunion" all contain an element that makes it possible for readers to think about a journey for self-discovery. Gabriel English, the central character in "Archibald the Arctic" has his brother to help him realize that he is wasting his life living in accordance with false values. The narrator in "The Cathedral" needs to interact with a miserable person who feels happy about who he is in order to acknowledge that it would only be normal for him to enjoy life. Similarly, the narrator in "Reunion" fails to gain a more complex understanding of life until his drunken father forces him to do so. All of…. [read more]

Symbolism in the Cathedral Creative Writing

… Carver Cathedral

Carver's Cathedral

According to critics Larry McCaffrey and Sinda Gregory, symbolism takes on mundane forms in the fiction of Raymond Carver, such that "things are more than what they appear, for often commonplace objects…cigarettes, a bottle of beer or whiskey -- become in Carver's hands…powerful, emotionally charged signifiers in and of themselves" (62). In Carver's short story "The Cathedral," cigarettes and liquor both take on such significance, but more telling still is the smoke that the former produces. Smoke has many properties that are important in this story, from the shared nature of its literal inspiration and aspiration to the fact that it obscures the vision, and rather than being a sign of destruction as it often is in this story smoke is…. [read more]

Carver's "Cathedral" When the Narrator of Raymond Term Paper

… Carver's "Cathedral"

When the narrator of Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral" asks Robert "Do you have any idea what a cathedral is?" he had no idea that the question would transform his perspective and undermine his prejudices and stereotypes. When the blind man first arrives at the narrator's home, he swells with anxiety and lingering jealousy because Robert was his wife's friend. The visit was "not something I looked forward to," the narrator notes. Having never before met a blind man, the narrator remains filled with erroneous stereotypes about the visually impaired until he forces himself into a situation in which he must literally reach out and touch the man. Ultimately the narrator shuts his eyes tightly to become as blind as his new friend.…. [read more]

Lessons From Short Stories Essay

… III. Michael Winter: "Archibald the Arctic"

The work of Michael Winter entitled "Archibald the Arctic" begins with the main character, Gabriel being awakened by his mother informing him that the police officers were at the door. The story relates that Gabriel walked to the porch in his jeans and barefoot and that he had a headache and was hungry. Snow was falling on the police officer's fur hats and the driveway needed shoveling. The officers informed Gabriel that they had a warrant for his arrest and when asking what the charge was, Gabriel was informed that he would be told that when he arrived at the police station. When Gabriel asked if he was under arrest his father came to the door and asked if…. [read more]

Theme and Narrative Essay

… Carver

A Different Kind of Seeing

In "Cathedral," Raymond Carver explores multiple ways of human seeing through the strained interactions between a prejudiced but sighted man and an open minded but blind man. Carver uses several literary elements to convey the central theme exploring multiple modes of perception and understanding. For example, characterization defines the boundaries and relationships between characters and therefore allows the theme of blindness to emerge. The point-of-view of the story encourages the reader to identify with, and thus understand, the first person narrator. Symbolism also permeates "Cathedral," and enables the irony of blindness to be conveyed to the reader. Each of these literary elements work together to convey the central theme of multiple modes of seeing, knowing, and understanding.

Strong characterization,…. [read more]

Cathedral Character Analysis: Cathedral Narrator Term Paper

… However, as the story develops the sensitivity of the narrator comes forth.

The blind man does not appear to be knowledgeable of the extent of his actual limitations existing as a blind individual as he navigates about the world in a self-assured manner appearing quite comfortable with his blindness. The blind man is an astute learner, an adept conversationalist, and agreeable to learning new facts as he relates that anything on television will be suitable for his listening as he likes learning something new. While the television is being watched by the characters in this story, the subject of cathedrals comes up and the blind man expresses that he does not know what a cathedral looks like and asks the narrator to describe the appearance…. [read more]

Cathedral Evaluation, Interpretation, & Experience Essay

… When the blind man begins to ask the narrator to describe the cathedral, however, the narrator begins to enter into himself more deeply and to think about what a cathedral is and what it was made for. He recognizes that people built cathedrals in the old days because they wanted to be near God. He himself has no religion and has never thought about it. With some prompting from the blind man, he begins to think about religion in spite of himself. He realizes that by looking inward, he can see what he has not been seeing his whole life—the need for spirituality. Carver characterizes the epiphany by staying true to the narrator’s character and his lack of words: he describes it only as “something.”…. [read more]

Emergency," by Dennis Johnson and "Cathedral Term Paper

… ¶ … Emergency," by Dennis Johnson and "Cathedral," by Raymond Carver, were published about a decade apart but are remarkably similar in tone, style, language, motifs, point-of-view, and themes. Both stories are told in the first person point-of-view, in a language and tone that is thoroughly familiar and commonplace so as to draw in the reader and impart a sense of hearing a friend speak. Slang and curse words are used in both stories to underscore the familiarity of the characters. The protagonist in "Emergency" is a hospital clerk; in "Cathedral," the narrator does not discuss his career and it is irrelevant to the unfolding of the narrative just as it is in "Emergency." However, the hospital setting in "Emergency" does offer a symbolic setting…. [read more]

Comparative Cathedral and Good Man Is Hard to Find Term Paper

… ¶ … Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor and "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver

Authors often go to incredible lengths to convey a message to us. One effective way of conveying a message is through changing a character's setting or situation to allow us to understand the message the author wishes to convey. Two stories that illustrate this literary technique are "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor and "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver. Both authors use extraordinary situations to illustrate how we can learn from our situations.

In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," O'Connor uses the extraordinary situation of the family's premature death to bring us to the realization that people are not always what they seem. O'Connor…. [read more]

Element of Literature Theme or Conflict Essay

… ¶ … Conflict

The Theme of Freedom in Three Works

What is freedom and how does it arrive? This challenging question has been answered in various ways through literature as well as philosophy. It remains a stable concern for every new generation of thinkers and for each new situation tackled in literary works. Narratives and poems have suggested alternative arrangements of this theme and have drawn attention to different conflicts involved in its resolution. Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" views freedom as liberation for self-assertion against social bondage that comes through chance outside circumstances. Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" positions freedom as an internal choice one makes every moment that is based on rising fateful encounters. Raymond Carver's "Cathedral" takes the…. [read more]

Leadership -- Power and Responsibilities Essay

… It is inexplicable that the narrator would be so rude (perhaps he is jealous that Robert and the narrator's wife are friends and were friends previously when the narrator's wife was a reader for Robert years ago), but Robert ends up being the stronger person. The leadership Robert shows comes clear when Robert asks the narrator to describe what a cathedral looks like; the narrator can't do it and so Robert places his hand on the narrator's hand and in effect is proving tutoring to the narrator vis-a-vis how to experience a cathedral.

Meanwhile John F. Kennedy had his flaws (he reportedly had an affair with Hollywood superstar Marilyn Monroe) in his person life, but in his professional life, as president, he showed great leadership.…. [read more]

Individual Knowledge and Power 19th Essay

… I read with equal parts joy and desperation. I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose. I was trying to save my life" (Alexie "Superman and Me"). On the road to individual knowledge and power, Alexie discovered the importance of taking responsibility for one's social status, emotional health, and economic position: while acting self-reliantly may not be able to change present circumstances, present choices and decisions do significantly impact future circumstances. Thereby, Alexie's declaration of self-reliance in the face of fear and uncertainty artfully shows that through the proactive use of individual knowledge, one achieves ever greater power.

While self-awareness and self-reliance are resources in the human preoccupation with knowledge and power, being able to adapt to changing times…. [read more]

Career Term Paper

… The earlier depressing and pessimistic stories follow Carver's own life closely. When he first began to write, he also began to drink heavily, and his alcoholism certainly affected his work. He was sober for the last 10 years of his life, and his writing took subtle and not so subtle turns after he stopped drinking.

When Raymond Carver wrote Cathedral, he recognized that it was "totally different in conception and execution from any stories that [had] come before." He goes on to say, "There was an opening up when I wrote the story. I knew I'd gone as far the other way as I could or wanted to go, cutting everything down to the marrow, not just to the bone. Any farther in that direction…. [read more]

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