When most people think of blind people, they tend to picture a person with dark sunglasses, a seeing eye dog, and a walking stick. These are stereotypes and obviously do not remain true in the case of all blind people. In Raymond Carver’s short story ‘Cathedral,” the main character is jealous and judgmental of his wife’s friend who happens to be a blind man. It is the combination of these attitudes that leads to his own unique ‘blindness.” It is through this initial blindness, that the character gains his greatest vision.
The short story ‘Cathedral’; includes three characters. These characters include the narrator, his wife, and her blind friend Robert. Early into the story, the narrator expresses that he possesses many stereotypes, these stereotypes keep him ‘blind’; from the true reality of blind people. The narrator says ‘My idea of blindness came from the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs.’; This explains where the narrator originally gains his misconceptions of blind people. The narrator’s wife tells him that Robert will be visiting for the weekend. Once Robert arrives at their home, the narrator is shocked to find out that Robert doesn’t wear dark glasses, carry a cane, and is wearing a full beard. Throughout the story some of the narrator’s stereotypes are erased. However, the jealousy that the narrator possesses, still remains.
When the narrator’s wife informs him that her blind friend, Robert will be visiting for the weekend, the narrator becomes jealous. The narrator’s wife had worked for Robert as a summer job, many years back. The two had kept in contact with each other through audio tapes. The narrator’s wife shared a special moment with Robert, he rubbed her face and felt her features. The narrator’s wife had written poetry about that occurrence. The fact that his wife felt that way about the event, had the narrator extremely jealous. When his wife tried to play one of the tapes that Robert had sent for her husband, the narrator paid little attention and a small distraction had him on his way. Once the narrator and Robert had a chance to actually sit down and speak with each other, the narrator finally did have an understanding and made some realizations about himself.
Robert, the narrator, and his wife spent a lot of time speaking with each other. They spoke on various subjects, and the narrator learned that Robert was an interesting character. At one point, the narrator’s wife leaves Robert and the narrator alone, during this time, the two men continue speaking and decide to smoke a joint together. Their conversation leads them to the topic of Cathedrals. Robert has never seen a cathedral, and the narrator has never paid too much attention to one. Robert asks the narrator to take his hand and draw a cathedral. They continue through this process and Robert has the narrator close is eyes as they complete the drawing. After about a minute, Robert tells the narrator to open his eyes, the narrator keeps his eyes closed as he realizes what it is like to be blind. He says ‘I was in my house and I knew that. But I didn’t feel inside anything.’; Ironically at this point with his eyes closed, the narrator receives his greatest vision.
In Raymond Carver’s short story ‘Cathedral,” the main character’s jealous and judgmental attitudes keep him blind to reality. Through an experience with a friend of his wife’s, he gains an insight that helps him to realize a lot about himself.