loneliness in the past, before her current marriage to the narrator. In the days just after she worked for Robert as his reader, she was married to an Air Force officer and was forced to move from base to base as he followed his career. At one point, she tried to commit suicide because, as the narrator reports, ‘‘... she got to feeling lonely and cut off from people she kept losing in that moving around life. She got to feeling she couldn't go on another step.'' Her correspondence withRobert via tape recordings seems to have provided her with healing. Nevertheless, there is little evidence that her current marriage to the narrator provides her with the human contact she so obviously yearns for. As she tries to prepare the narrator for the impending visit she pleads, ''If you love me... you can do this for me. If you don't love me, okay.’’ There seems to be little certainty that she feels loved or needed by the narrator. Of the three characters in the story, Robert, the blind man, seems to be the only one who does notsuffer from alienation and isolation. This is ironic because not only is he blind, something which Carver seems to imply could stand in the way of forming human relationships, he has just lost hisbeloved wife. Certainly, one would assume that such a loss could engender great loneliness. However, there is no evidence for this in the story. Robert is outgoing, polite, and interested in others. Although his journey is one of sadness and mourning, he nevertheless reaches out to both the narrator and his wife in an altruistic gesture of human kindness. Change and TransformationBoth the narrator and his wife undergo change and transformation through their direct contact with Robert. Some years before the story opens, as the narrator's wife left the employ of Robert, he asked if he could touch her face. The narrator's wife tries to tell the narrator the importance of this event, and even shows him the poem that she has written. Even the fact that she has written a
poem about the event suggests the transformative power of the touch; the narrator says, ‘‘She wrote a poem or two every year, usually after something really important had happened to her.’’ The narrator, however, is unable to understand the importance of the event to his wife; he rejects her poetry, saying, ‘‘I didn't think much of the poem ... Maybe I just don't understand poetry.’’ During Robert's visit to the narrator and his wife, however, a similar circumstance seems to breakthrough the narrator's isolation and at least open the possibility of change and transformation in his life. The moment occurs as the blind man asks the narrator to draw a cathedral for him. Robert places his hand on top of the narrator's as the narrator draws, and Robert encourages him every step. Finally he asks the narrator to close his eyes, and tells him to continue drawing. The narrator reports, ''It was like nothing else in my life up to now.’’ The narrator is not an articulate man; yet his final words, ‘‘It's really something,’’ at least suggest that the world has suddenly opened for him.