By Raymond Carver, 13 pages.
In the short story, Cathedral, the narrator is not too happy about his wife’s friend, who is blind, coming to visit. It seems to bother him quite a bit that the man is blind. The narrator doesn’t seem jealous, I don’t think, except perhaps at the sharing of thoughts that his wife has been doing with this other man over the years. That might have him upset. But instead of mentioning anything about that, he focuses on the man’s blindness. As he does this, all of his stereotypical and weird biases emerge, making him less sympathetic to us.
This story is wonderfully crafted. The opposing ideas of blindness and sight are woven throughout.
I really liked this part. It gave us information not only about the narrator’s wife and her past, but also about the narrator himself:
“…where one night 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 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 into a hot bath and passed out. But instead of dying, she got sick. She threw up. Her officer—why should he have a name? he was the childhood sweetheart, and what more does he want?—came home from somewhere, found her, and called the ambulance.”
This made me chuckle. You really get the narrator’s voice here. And yeah, any guy who holds the title of first love, doesn’t deserve a name. He’s already gotten enough.
By the end of the story, the protagonist undergoes a change, as he should. The way that Carver shows this change is beautiful and subtle.
This is definitely a story to come back to.