Reviewing the short story:''Cathedral''
Exploring the changes perceived in the thinking process of the character:
In the first paragraph, the character is perceived as having a contemptuous attitude towards the blind man, despite the fact that he had never seen him before. He says of him: “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew” (Carver 1). His inhumane attitude is reflected on the first paragraph whereby he asserts that he was not looking forward to the visit, particularly because of the blindness of Robert, the visitor.
He does not seem compassionate about the disabled man. He overlooks his challenges and compares them to the ones he had seen in the movies. This means that the character is not used to blind-men around his close vicinity. The fact that he assumes blind men are a bother to his home reflects a clear indication of the unmoved nature of the character. There is also an element of disconnection in the first paragraph. He refers to the both his wife and the blind man as “They”.
He says of them: “They made tapes and mailed them back and forth” (Carver 1). This element of disconnect portrays the assumption that he had ,in no way, purported to interfere with the relationship his wife had with the blind man: perhaps he did not feel comfortable being a part of it given the fact that the visitor was a blind man.
Moving forward, it is safe to assume that the character does not seem ready to build any form of connection with the blind people in the society. This is so, given the fact that he refers to the visitor as “the blind man” despite the fact that he has a name Robert. This is an advanced negative form of thoughts by the character since he does not want us as the readers to associate him to the blind in case whatsoever.
In the second paragraph, the character’s thoughts are reflected in a flashback. He gives us the readers’ immense insight into how the blind man and his wife had met. His wife had been in dire need of money and had opted to work for the blind man for pay. In this cordial relationship, the wife and the blind man developed a friendship which the character seems not to be interested in. In fact, he feels disgusted when he mentions that the wife and the blind man had established a friendship which seemed unbreakable or so we can say. He writes about the friendship between his wife and the blind man: “They’d become good friends, my wife and the blind man.
The contemptuous and disconnection depicted by the character are further developed through the aforementioned flashback. Safely, it is fair to assume that the character‘s thoughts were marred with hate. This is depicted by the fact that he refers to his wife’s first lover as “my wife’s officer”. The scornful thoughts of the character towards the man, his wife’s first lover, are depicted by the statement he makes in the 3rd paragraph. He writes of him: “Her officer-why should he have a name?” Notably, the thought of the character towards the aforementioned relationship, which is, between his wife and the blind man, is of distrust. For instance, in the 3rd paragraph, he seems to be carried away with the cordial relationship and dismays her trust to his wife. He writes of her mode of communication to the blind man: “She told her blind man about it”.
When the blind man finally arrives, the narrator’s inner thoughts are reflected outside. A point worth to be noted is the assumption that the narrator’s earlier thoughts were inner and unexposed. He did not utter any negative word about the visitor. He was only thinking within himself. However, it changes when the blind man knocks at the door. The narrator unleashes his thoughts to his wife which are sarcastic and insensitive in that matter. He makes fun of the blind when he says: “May be I could take him bowling” (Carver 2).
Consequently, the narrator’s “disengaged thoughts” are reflected when he keeps quiet after learning that the blind man’s wife had passed on. He is not moved about the matter since his thoughts are not in any manner redirected to positive thinking. In fact, he showcases his negative thoughts about colored people. He does not seem to get it why the blind man had a colored woman for a wife: “Right then my wife filled me in with more detail than I cared to know” (Carver 2). His negative mode of thinking towards the blind is reflected when he fails to understand that the blind man and wife had married, had sex together without the blind man knowing how his woman looked.
It is within this paragraph that the narrator shows a little compassion about the blind man but his pity is marred with sarcasm especially to Beulah. He does not seem to understand how the woman felt at the hands of a blind man. He takes us through his pitiful thinking of the woman, of how she could not get noticed even when she wore make-up or not. He asserts this in a humorous manner depicting his immature thinking process. Through this depiction of Beulah, he is able to make fun of a serious matter. When the blind man arrives, the narrator shakes his hand and sarcastically, eases-up to the blind man’s joke. The narrator’s descriptions of the blind man’s eyes are negative. It is a fair rationale to describe him in the manner he did even if he had not experienced such a relationship before. He says: “Too much white in the iris…and the pupils seemed to move around in the sockets without his knowing” (Carver 2).
However, the narrator’s attitude eases up when the two embark on drinking. They share stories together. An incidence in the TV seems to bring the positive transformation of the narrator’s once ill-mindedness. The blind man makes him to think positively. For once, the narrator is made to think critically and evaluate his mode of thinking by expounding to the blind man about the shape of a “cathedral”. On noticing that the narrator could not provide clear description of the Cathedral, the blind man embarks on another crucial strategy which transforms the narrator’s mind positively given the fact that he finds peace in meditation. His mind opens up to the events in the world and he is now able to view and think about matter in a manner that allows peaceful coexistence.
Significance of changes to theme enhancement:
The character’s thinking progression enhances the plot as well as the theme of the short story. The theme of appreciation and humanity is brought forth through his progressive thinking-transformation process. Unlike before, he now perceives the events in the world clearer and appreciates them every bit. Changes are inevitable, this is reflected by the manner in which the narrator, despite the contempt he once had for the blind man, changes to being close to him and undertakes life’s crucial journey in finding one’s inner self. His negative inner thoughts are replaced with a sense of positivity and he is ready to conform to this real world.
In my opinion, I think that the narrator showcases elements of epiphany though in an ironized manner. The narrator describes weighty events with utmost indication in a manner which slightly advocates for relinquishing it to the readers but then fails completely to attain this crucial goal. In this way, the narrator allows the readers to think way ahead of him and in a positive manner. This is reflected in the way which he fails to understand common occurrences as having blind men around. He is not ready to be hospitable to the blind despite the society advocating for it.
Thinking that his wife will put sense into his negative thinking, does not seem to bear any fruit. The wife asks him to be friendly to the blind man if at all he loves her instead he goes ahead to put up with negative comments about Robert. The narrator’s negativity resurfaces through his never-ending rhetoric questions which are sarcastic in nature. He does not get tired referring to the visitor as just “the blind man”. He even makes fun out of his appearance when he notes that the eyes of the blind man had a little bit of white and his eyeballs could not keep stable with the movements. It is an epiphany that the narrator fails to understand that blind men can smoke. He watches the blind man smoking as though he could burn himself up. This disregarding and inhumane notion makes us the readers to question the about the narrator’s up-bringing.
To sum up, it is safe to note that the story has portrayed its thematic notions in a successful manner so that the readers can be able to identify with the happenings as they occur within the story. Such themes as appreciation and self-enlargement are depicted clearly. Change is considered to be the main theme of the story and the narrator uses different methodologies to portray every bit of it to the readers. Change, in this story is conveyed when the narrator’s thoughts are transformed into positivity as he embarks on a journey of self-reflection.
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