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COLUMBIASTATE ENGL 1010 - Cathedral

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"Cathedral" is a short story that leads us through the narrator's ever-evolving feelings towards his wife's friend, the blind man. Raymond Carver wrote this story from the narrator's point of view. Carver sets up this story by focusing heavily on the intertwining relationships of the characters. The first five paragraphs specifically give us insight regarding the narrator's initial thoughts about the blind man. Additionally, the opening provides us with valuable information about the blind man's long-time friendship with the narrator's wife and the wife's complicated back story. It is made abundantly clear early on in "Cathedral" that the narrator is not very fond of his wife's blind friend. The narrator of this story says point-blank, "I wasn't enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me" (20). At this point, it seemsas though the narrator harbored negative feelings towards the blind man simply because of hisblindness. The narrator paints a picture of how his wife and the blind man had gotten to know each other when she worked for him. He moves on to say, "On her last day at the office, the blind man asked if he could touch her face. She agreed to this. She told me he touched his fingers to every part of her face, her nose- even her neck!" (20). This reveals that the narrator is uncomfortable, or maybe even jealous, about his wife and the blind man's relationship. In the fifth paragraph, the narrator describes listening to the latest tape that the blind man sent to his wife. "After a few minutes of harmless chitchat, I heard my own name in the mouth of thisstranger, this blind man I don't even know!" (21). This line solidifies the negativity the narrator feels towards the blind man. His discomfort is palpable throughout the beginning of this short story.The friendship between the blind man and the narrator's wife is described early in this short story. The narrator's wife and the blind man are not mere acquaintances; they are bestfriends. In the very first paragraph, the narrator says, "She hadn't seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man kept in touch." (19). The wife and the blind man remaining in touch after ten years prove their friendship's longevity and importance. As the narrator describes the primary means of communication between his wife and the blind man, we can infer that communication was essential to them. "He sent her the tape. She made a tape. This went on for years." (21). They put real effort into their communications by recording the tapes and sending them to each other consistently. Thisallowed them to relisten as much as they wanted, which may have provided a sense of comfortwhile their friendship was long distance. The narrator continues to say, "She told him everything, or so it seemed to me," revealing the deep connection between the wife and the blind man (21). She would not keep the blind man up to date about the details of her life if shedid not feel a connection to him. In addition to the narrator's feelings towards the blind man and the relationship between the narrator's wife and the blind man, we are introduced to the wife's seemingly tricky past. We are informed of his wife's financial troubles before her first marriage. "She didn't have any money. The man she was going to marry at the end of the summer was in officers' training school. He didn't have any money, either." (20). This is a crucial piece of information that showed us the reasoning for the wife getting the job that introduced her to theblind man. While the narrator talks about his wife's former military marriage, he says, "She got to feeling she couldn't go it another step. She went in and swallowed all the pills and capsules in the medicine chest and washed them down with a bottle of gin. Then she got in a hot bath and passed out." (21). The wife's vulnerability and her mental health struggles that came from the constant traveling and being a military wife are made apparent at this point.The narrator says, "In time, she put it all on a tape and sent the tape to the blind man." (21). This shows that communication between her and the blind man was cathartic to her, and she used it to move and work through her struggles. Throughout the first five paragraphs, we can easily concur that the narrator possesses negative feelings toward the blind man. It is also apparent that the wife has a complicated history, and the blind man is a consistent presence in the wife's life. The story's opening leads us to question how the in-person interaction will go between the narrator and the blind man. The narrator is uncomfortable with the blind man. The blind man is significant to the narrator's wife. The opening provides the reader with a clear-cut conflict that will be present further into the story and hopefully


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