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The Cathedral

“The Cathedral” Card Report Story: “The Cathedral,” 1983. Author: Raymond Carver (1938-1988). Central Character: The Narrator. He is an unnamed man, who tells a story about his experience with another character - Robert. This person is very jealous. He hates all men from his wife’s past experience and is not eager to let Robert in. A bit later the narrator changes his point of view. It happens when Robert and the narrator decide to draw a cathedral. Other characters: there are not a lot of characters in the writing. They are: Robert and the narrator’s wife. The latter has no name as well. Narrator: an unknown man. Events in summary: (1) the narrator starts the story from telling that his wife’s friend Robert intends to stay in their house for the whole night. (2) When Robert comes, he and the narrator’s wife have a conversation about their past; this irritates the narrator very much. (3) In some time the narrator stays alone with the guest and watch television program about The Middle Ages. (4) Sometimes the narrator has to explain Robert the things he does not see. (5) He fails to describe a cathedral and says that this happens because he is not a religious person. (6). Robert suggests drawing a cathedral together and asks the narrator to close his eyes for doing that. (7) The narrator’s wife does not understand what is going on, but the first one is satisfied with the drawing. (8) The narrator feels as if he is nowhere and understands that there is something special in the drawing he has done with Robert. Tone: there is an ironical description of the narrator’s jealousness and optimistic tone. The author uses no ending to give the protagonist an opportunity to analyze new feelings and experience. The story itself is written in “dirty realism” tone. Style: Raymond Carver applies simple, short, and clear sentences to tell the story. This style has much in common with famous Ernest Hemingway. “The Cathedral” is also a good example of minimalism prose that was also used by Hemingway in his writings. It means that Carver tried to use minimum number of words to describe everything he wanted in “The Cathedral.” There are a lot of conversational rhythms and repetitions in the text. For example, the author frequently applies the phrase “the blind man” throughout the text. At the end of the second part of the writing the reader may see that the word “comfort” also occurs rather often. In fact, Raymond Carver’s prose is called architectural due to the author’s ability to express deep sense by means of simple words and phrases. Theme: There are two major themes in “The Cathedral.” They are: 1) art as insight, and 2) the difference shown between seeing and looking. Art plays an important part in the story. All the characters are connected with it somehow. The narrator’s wife expresses her feelings with the help of poetry. She does this every time when there are some important events in her life. As for narrator, he looks at his own life from another point of view with the help of drawing. Robert also enjoys this type of art. Looking in “Cathedral” means some physical action, but the author emphasizes that seeing has much deeper sense. Although Robert is blind and cannot look at things with the help of his eyes, he sees much more than the narrator and helps him to understand that to look does not always means to see the subject. Symbols: There are two symbols. The cathedral stands for deep and true sight. It symbolizes human ability to see the things above the surface and understand their meaning. Audiotapes stand for some type of empathy and understanding. They have nothing in common with human ability to see. Evaluation: Raymond Carver created a splendid story with very important moral. Blind people can see much more than healthy ones and on the contrary – those who have perfect sight may pay attention only to the surface of everything around them. This seems to be the key thought of the whole writing expressed with the help of minimalism and clear sentences.



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