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Blindness Can Make You Start to See

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Blindness Can Make You Start To See

        Sometimes eyes need to be closed in order to see. This short story is written by Raymond Carver (1938-1989). The title of this short story is ‘Cathedral’, the cathedral is a symbol that comes back in the story as a never ending ceiling of opportunities. The main characters are Robert, the blind man, and the (nameless) narrator and his wife. Sub-characters are Beulah, Robert's dead wife, and the commissioned officer; the ex-husband of the narrator's wife. The narrator’s wife and Robert met years ago during a summer-job and stayed in contact. They stay in touch by sending each other tapes every now and then. The story is told from the narrator's view. Robert is coming over to the narrator and his wife's house to visit. The narrator; however, does not know how to deal with Robert because he is blind. He is obsessed by his abilities; even though, he is blind. The narrator’s dull and non-ambitious perspective on life gets changed in one night by Robert. The blindness of Robert makes the narrator see life differently.
        The narrator does not have an ambitious perspective on life. The nameless narrator is a simple man; something like an everyday Joe. He goes to work every day, comes home, sits on the couch, and goes to bed. His wife proves this by saying "you don’t have any friends" (Carver 142), and "Are you drunk?" (142). These comments made by his wife are representative of his life and his view on how life should be lived. "Every night I smoked dope and stayed up as long as I could before I fell asleep. My wife and I hardly ever went to bed at the same time." (147).


This is yet again an example of the way the narrator lives his life and can be used as an indication that his life is not thrilling or exciting at all. The narrator does not have an ambitious perspective on life, but Robert will start to change his views.
        From the moment Robert steps into the narrator’s house, he is fascinated by him. He is analyzing everything this man does and how he acts. This is an out of character phase for the narrator. Perfect examples of the narrator, analyzing Robert in depth are, "At first glance, his eyes looked like anyone else's eyes. But if you looked close, there was something different about them. Too much white in the iris, for one thing, and the pupils seemed to move around in the sockets without his knowing it or being able to stop it." (144), "But this blind man smoked his cigarettes down to the nubbin and then lit another one."(144), "The blind man had right away located his foods, he knew just where everything was on his plate, I watched with admiration as he used his knife and fork on the meat." (144). These quotes show the fascination the narrator has towards Robert.
        Robert changes the narrator's perspective on life. The narrator and Robert stay up drinking and smoking together. This eliminates the awkwardness and distance that the narrator feels towards Robert’s blindness. When Robert asks the narrator to draw a Cathedral, this is when the narrator’s perspective changes. "I'm not doing so good, am I?" (148). At the beginning of the story the narrator has no interest in the opinion of others, especially his wife's

opinion. His attitude of always being right shows up several times; however, this time he seeks confirmation and the opinion of someone else. A moment where the narrator has changed his perspective is; "My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything." (150). The feeling of being trapped in his house has always been a big issue for him, but because of the knowledge, Robert gives him, he can finally see. The Cathedral is a symbol for a wide range of opportunities. The feeling of being trapped inside something and not reaching his maximum abilities is gone.
        Robert's blindness changes the way the narrator looks at the world. The narrator never had an ambitious view of the world, he was an average man with no goal in life. Meeting Robert changed his perspective. The ways Robert acts fascinates the narrator, who closely analyzed him. Robert opens his heart to the opinions of people and makes him understand that he is trapped in his small world. The cathedral is a symbol for a never ending range of chances in life. This is significant because currently people are trapped in their world and their everyday grind. Sometimes we need someone to shake us up and show us another way to look at life, or in this case being unable to see. Another perspective can open up hundreds of new perspectives. Sometimes eyes need to be closed in order to see.

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