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B e n j i| 1Isaac Benji12-3-15Dr. D DonahueHUM102-11Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” – Physical Blindness vs. Metaphysical BlindnessIn Cathedral, the narrator is spiritually blind. This blindness prevents him from seeing or wanting anything greater in life. A blind man by the name of Robert is introduced into the narrator’s life. While Robert is physically blind, he can see the true beauty of life. In spite of his blindness or because of it, he sees what many others cannot. He possesses an unparalleled empathy and understand for humanity, and the curiosity and perceptiveness that makes one truly alive and free. It is because of these characteristics that Robert is able to help the narrator. By having the narrator take an intimate look at the cathedral, Robert forces him to look within, and have an intimate look at himself. He has shown the narrator to view life from a fresh perspective (Grinell 72). The narrator is very open about himself with his listeners and presents himself in an unfavorable light. However, he has a unique humor in the way he talks. It seems that in the beginning of the story, he is detached from himself and from reality, thus lacking a certain degreeof self-knowledge. This is evident in his interactions with his wife as well as with Robert. When he speaks of her poetry, he says: “I didn’t think much of the poem. Of course, I didn’t tell her that. Maybe I just don’t understand poetry” (Carver 33). In regards to Robert, his preconceived notions about blind people that he has gotten from the movies, demonstrates his detachment. Towards the final pages of the story, the negativity that surrounds the narrator at the start is noticeably lacking. This absence goes to show the radical change the narrator undergoes from a single encounter with Robert. When the narrator listens to his wife and Robert speak about their time apart. He remarked, “They talked of things that had happened to them—to them! --these past ten years"
B e n j i| 2(Carver 37). There are two ways one can understand this statement. Either he is annoyed that they are neglecting him, which is strange given the disinterest he has shown in answering Robert’s questions about himself. Alternatively, he may be suggesting that they live fuller lives that he does not understand. Either way, it highlights his isolation and detachment. This isolation is further evident from the narrator’s lack of a social life and subsequent nightly ritual. His wife tells him: “You don’t have any friends,” she said. “Period” (Carver 34). He stays up alone each night after she goes to bed, gets drunk and high, and watches TV. However, very early on, when