Cathedral is a short story by Raymond Carver. Cathedral has been written from the first person point of view. The book revolves around three characters: the narrator, the narrator’s wife, and Robert, who is a blind person. The author has managed to discuss some themes in the book, but the standout theme is the change. The story revolves around the narrator who is a man that is prejudiced about blind people. This prejudice developed from watching movies. The narrator experiences a life-changing moment when Robert, the blind person visits them in their home. Different people hold different views regarding an array of topics. The narrator who is similar to the common man holds negative thoughts about blind people and their purpose in this world. Although the narrator presents a selfish, ignorant, and insensitive personality, he experiences a life-changing metamorphosis that modifies the way he perceives blind people.
The narrator is ignorant to what blind people go through in their daily lives. He does not recognize that blind people can live the way a normal person lives. His ignorance is identified when at first he does not want the blind person to come to his house because blind people are always “miserable”. This is a wrong notion. Robert, for example, has a wife and a color TV at his home. The narrator is ignorant to the fact that his wife worked for Robert. This perception changes slowly as they start to talk with Robert.
One of the traits that the narrator has showed in the book is his insensitivity. The wife is sensitive to Roberts feelings. He says that a blind person in his house is not something that he looked forward to. He further advises his wife to take Robert Bowling instead of letting him come for a visit to their house (Carver 67). His wife welcomed the blind man to their home. Robert is the only visitor, and he did not force to come over. Conversely, he is also inconsiderate to his wife’s feelings. He only thinks about his comfort and not his wife’s feelings in trying to appreciate Robert. In addition, he does not consider that the blind man has just lost his wife. He does not care if he is lonely or not. However, the insensitivity does not last long. He later, as they were taking alcohol, started to be considerate to Robert. This is after Robert made him close his eyes and try to imagine the cathedral.
The narrator, at first, is also shallow. He does not understand the inner self of a person but rather only the physical outer form. This can be proven by the judgment on the blind person. He comments that Roberts’s wife must have been unhappy and the reason being his blindness. He does not understand that people who are not blind can also cause their lovers to live a life full of regrets. The narrator superficial nature or character can be connected with the movies he watched. He assumes that blind people are only led by dogs and always wear sunglasses. He believes that they usually carry sticks and are very slow in their activities. First, the narrator gives the blind man Cannabis (Carver 2372). He teaches him how to hold and smoke it. Robert does this with ease giving the impression that he has been doing this since he was young. This is the part where the narrator starts to have second thoughts about his beliefs of blind people. The only thing that he has shared with Robert and he seems a professional is smoking that marijuana. This is one of the situations he starts to change his perception about blind people. At first he did not even want the blind person to come but now they are sharing a pipe.
The attitude of the narrator can be seen slowly changing and he warms to Robert. After realizing that Robert can distinguish between a color and a black and white television, he becomes proud of him (Runyon 78). Only a person that can see is able to distinguish between the two different televisions set. This Phenomenon makes the narrator interested in Robert. He cannot comprehend how Robert is a blind man and can identify between the two. Part from that, the blind person also owns a color TV. The narrator with this knowledge admires the energy of Robert. In addition, Robert drinks with the narrator’s family. This act makes the narrator envy how outgoing and dynamic the blind person is. It is rare to find a blind man drunk but in this situation, Robert enjoys himself with the alcohol. All these acts make the narrator have conflicting thoughts between what he has seen in movies and what is presenting itself at the moment.
In conclusion, it can be established how the narrator changes from an insensitive, superficial, and ignorant person at the beginning of cathedral to an understanding individual. He can finally see that disability is not inability especially when it comes to blindness. He finally realizes that it is he who was blind and not Robert. At the end of the story, he changes from a blind person to one who can finally see. From the story, it can be identified how people have negative perception about something without a valid reason. From the book, it can be noted that people should not judge each other because of a certain phenomenon. Every person is unique and need to be taken like a normal individual no matter the challenges such a person is undergoing.