Learning in Raymond Carver's "Cathedral,"

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA, July 1996

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'Learning Never Ends'

In Raymond Carver's short story 'Cathedral,' he uses plot, character, as

well as actions to develop his theme. The theme is very slowly and subtlety

developed early on the story. It is the theme of 'Leaning never ends.'

The character of the narrator's wife is simply a bridge between the two

contrasting attitudes of the narrator and Robert, the blind man. Robert

hired the narrator's wife to read for him. After much interaction, a

friendship developed. On the last day of this work, he asked her if he

could touch her face. This was the first indication in the story of

Robert's desire to learn more about the world about him. This action

had lasting impact on her, illustrated by her writing a poem about it [224.]

The narrator's character is shown to be very much unlike Robert's. The

narrator has never known anyone who was blind.[227].

In The narrator's

mind it was a handicap and it made him feel sorry for Robert. It is also

obvious that Robert knew something about the Narrator from the tapes he

received, whereas the narrator never made the effort to find out much

about Robert. He was obviously reluctant to learn about Robert and his handicap.

After his arrival, Robert unexpectedly did away with the narrator's notion

of blind people and smoking. At dinner the narrator saw that Robert was

not as helpless as he had thought. After dinner he also saw just how

active Robert was. Having an Amway distributorship, and even making

friends all over the world as a ham radio operator. Robert was no doubly

a busy guy, making many friends, reaching out to others, learning about

the world through others around him.

It's very interesting to see how for...