Analysis of Fiction the Cathedral
More than the Eyes Can See “Cathedral” begins with the narrator introducing his wife’s friend, Robert, who is coming to the narrators’ house to spend the night. He had recently lost his wife and the narrators’ wife had invited him to visit her after years of separation. She had met Robert when she landed a job to read to a blind man and they kept in touch through tapes, even after she left the job. The narrator was not looking forward to meeting Robert because his idea of a blind man came from the movies, which showed that they moved slowly and rarely laughed.
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As the story unfolds, the narrator begins to have a different opinion about the blind. Raymond Carver uses symbolism, characterization, and an involved narrative point of view to show the difference between being able to see something and being able to understand what the real meaning of it is. As the story evolves, the characteristics of the narrator begin to change as he interacts with Robert. The author shows symbolism throughout the story that relates to each of the characters. An example is the twenty-peso coin, which Robert kept half of and the other half went into the box with his wife, Beulah.
The coin was a symbol of their marriage and relationship that ended due to the death of Beulah caused by cancer. The coin is a substitute for Beulah so he can remember her and connect with her symbolically. The tapes that the narrators’ wife and Robert shared, were also symbolic to them because they kept in touch for years without being face to face. Once they met and gave each other company, Robert says, “This beats tapes, doesn’t it (714)? ” which distinguishes the difference between the real thing and the substitute.
The main example of symbolism in the story “Cathedral,” is the cathedral itself. The narrator sees a cathedral on TV and asks Robert if he knows what it looks like. Robert asks him to draw it for him and that is when the narrator begins to “see” what is beyond the actual picture and what lies within. As the narrator draws the cathedral, he cannot use words to describe it because it does not have any meaning to him. Once he finishes the drawing, he keeps his eyes shut, but visualizes something greater than he ever has with his eyes open.
It was a self-revelation for the narrator because the drawing of the cathedral took the narrator beyond what was visible to his eyes. Raymond Carver uses different methods of characterization in the story for each character. He focuses on the narrator the most because it is told from his point of view. Robert is mentioned many times in the story before he is actually introduced so it gives the reader a better understanding of him. Raymond Carver describes him thoroughly so that the reader does not foreshadow that Robert will be like all blind men.
The main protagonist in the “Cathedral” was the narrator because he was the leading character in the story. The narrator was not heroic in the beginning and might have been described as villainous by some because he did not want Robert over at his house. The antagonist in the story was the narrators’ wife because she wanted to bring her blind friend, Robert to the house. The narrator resented that because he did not feel comfortable with a blind man in his house. The narrator is portrayed as a round character because the author portrays his personality so that the reader can comprehend him.
Robert is also a round character because the author gives a lot of background information about him. The author describes Robert through the narrator’s point of view. The narrators’ wife was a flat character because she was not described as much as the other two characters. She was used as a middleman in the story to get Robert to meet the narrator. Another flat character was Beulah, Roberts’ wife. There was very little information about her and was used as a filler with very little known personality and traits. The author used Beulah to give Robert a reason to meet the narrator’s wife.
The main character in the story is the narrator, from whose point of view the story is told. The narrator is very involved in the story but is not trustworthy. The story is told from his perspective and throughout the “Cathedral,” he gives his opinion on only what he knows and thinks. The narrator describes his wife’s feelings because he knows that she is unhappy with him. He describes how she tried to commit suicide after her first failed marriage, but did not succeed. The way the narrator shares her past gives the reader a negative image of her, portraying her as an antagonist.
It shows that she is not a strong person and has had problems in the past. Raymond Carver uses many aspects throughout “Cathedral” to show that the narrator has a lack of vision even though he has the ability to see, unlike Robert. He addresses the fact that people tend to rely their vision, instead of what is behind the real picture. The author gives examples of symbolism in the story, which relate to the characters’ interaction with each other. He also used many aspects of characterization in his story to display the difference in each of the main characters.
Carver describes the narrator and Robert with different characteristics to give the reader a depiction of the characters. The narrator was the main character in the story, so it used an involved narrative point of view. Raymond Carver used a great deal of characterization, an involved narrator, as well as quality traits of symbolism throughout the story, “Cathedral. ”