Disability short reflection

Raymond Carver’s Cathedral is told through the first-person-perspective of our narrator. In the beginning, he has misconceptions about the blind, but as the story progresses he slowly “opens his eyes”.

The narrator starts off with describing his apprehension towards the blind man who would be visiting. He is antagonistic towards the idea of a stranger living in his house. The stranger being blind only makes the unknown seem even more unknown. However, our narrator warms up to Robert as he feels pity for him and tries to make him feel more comfortable.

In the story, the narrator’s pity for Robert comes from two main sources: his blindness and his recent wife’s death. These two factors together seems to intensify his pity for Robert. Perhaps influenced by his wife’s actions (in that she wants Robert to be as comfortable as possible), our narrator also tries his best to accommodate the blind man.

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The narrator’s lack of understanding of the blind is reflected in his relationship with his wife (when he says that he doesn’t understand her poetry). Yet, at the end of the short story, we see that he opens up Robert. Perhaps after this our narrator can also improve his relationship with his wife. If we were to draw conclusions from this, it would be that meeting new people and getting to know them might help our other relationships too.

The narrator admits that his impressions of blindness mainly comes from watching movies. On the other hand, his wife maintains correspondence with a blind person through listening and recording tapes. These are two very different mediums of communication that form distinct understandings of blindness, much like the difference between a black-and-white TV and a color TV.

Later, the narrator attempts to describe a cathedral using words but finds difficulty doing so. He seems much more comfortable drawing it with Robert though, even if he is not a good artist. This is because the best way to communicate is through direct contact. Which is how most blinds get around the world. The narrator begins to feel the connection with Robert when he starts drawing blind. (and then our narrator will divorce his wife for Robert. a true love story.)

All in all, this short story is about a disgruntled man who opens up. I forgot to analyze the disability which was supposed to be the point of this reflection. The blind man is introduced as a love interest to our narrator. I forgot

Author: Eric Xin

Renaissance Computing Inst