Deep Reading of Raymond Carver's Cathedral

Deep Reading of Raymond Carver's Cathedral - Transformation...

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Mullikin 1 Christina Mullikin Professor Bealer English 285 2/21/2007 Transformation of Character within “Cathedral” Change is the ultimate double-edged sword. Whether it is dreaded or welcomed with open arms, change is undeniably inevitable. In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future” (Quotations about Change). The very thing that most people attempt to avoid, often at high costs to themselves, actually can become one of the most rewarding experiences and defining moments in someone’s life. Raymond Carver’s short story, “Cathedral,” tackles the hardships associated with the necessity of change. The story’s main protagonist, the narrator, goes through a life transformation brought upon by the story’s antagonist, a seemingly unlikely hero, named Robert, who also happens to be blind. The ironic ability of Robert to figuratively open the narrator’s eyes is craftily explored throughout Carver’s writing. Through Carver’s use of symbolism, writing style, diction, figurative language, and further influences stemming from culturally relevant issues and personal experiences and other literary devices , Raymond Carver successfully expresses the story’s centralized theme of change. While the entire short story focuses upon and explores the idea of change, this essay will focus primarily on the last few paragraphs, beginning with the phrase, “It’s all right,” and ending with the final line, “It’s really something” (Carver 474).
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Mullikin 2 Written in first person, Carver allows the reader to know the narrators intimate, innermost thoughts . Through this literary vehicle , the author enables the reader to better understand the story’s thematic elements . The narrator reveals from the beginning of the story that he is guilty of what most struggle with, being judgmental. Carver illustrates this, Hearing this, I felt sorry for the blind man for a little bit. And then I found myself thinking what a pitiful life this woman must have led,” which the narrator assumes simply because the man is blind (467) . The narrator is someone who fails to follow the old parable, do no t judge a book by its cover. Carver uses the narrator to illustrate the emotional handicap of being judgmental and the importance of learning to change and grow emotionally . Regardless of the fact that the narrator controls what information the reader is given , Carver supplies an ample amount hints to the personality of the narrator. With vigilant reading of “Cathedral,” the reader can determine aspects about the narrator that remain concealed even to himself. Carver reiterates this idea by the sudden epiphany at the end of the story , “ It was like nothing else in my life up to now” (474) . The transformation of character within the narra t or comes not only as a surprise to the reader, but to the narrator as well, demonstrated by the sudden nature of the
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course ENGL 285 taught by Professor Shields during the Spring '07 term at South Carolina.

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Deep Reading of Raymond Carver's Cathedral - Transformation...

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