In the short story “Cathedral,” Raymond Carver employs characters to develop the theme. In the short story, the theme of “learning never ends” is clearly conveyed by Raymond. The character of the narrator’s wife bridges the conflicting attitudes of Robert, the blind man, and the narrator. The narrator’s wife had been hired by Robert to read for him. It is the much interaction that they developed the friendship. In fact, he asks her if he could touch her face on the last day of this work. This stood out as an indication of Robert’s desire to learn more about her. It also had a lasting impact on her. No wonder, she illustrates more about it in a poem she writes (Berina, 2012). It is evident that the narrator’s character is immensely contrasted to Robert’s character.
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Unlike Robert, the male narrator, called “Bub” by Robert, is jealous. It is evident that he is jealous of his wife’s friendship with Robert. Moreover, he becomes unhappy about the blind man’s visit. This is after the death of Robert’s wife. He is always on the edge since he barely knows Robert. Then again, he does not like blind people. However, he pretends to be friendly to him for his wife’s sake. Within him, he confines with jealousy the friendship that had lasted for ten years. In fact, the friendship provokes feelings of insecurity to the narrator. He envies the years his wife had to exchange countless voice tapes, wherein they would unfold the events of their personal lives. No wonder, he feels that his wife conveyed to Robert more than he was supposed to know. He laments, “she told him everything or so it seemed to me” (Carver, 2003). He confirms his fears when Robert arrives. He even says that he feels like they have already met before. On the other hand, Robert interacts with sincere warmness to the narrator. He provides a key to unlock the communication barrier between the couple. The narrator’s wife is expressive, and Robert’s friendship allows her to express herself and attempts to share whatever thoughts and news regarding Robert with her husband. For instance, she asks her husband if he would listen to Robert’s latest tape. Across the story, it is evident that the blind man has substantially helped solve the prejudice. However, the entire prejudice is fuelled by his close friendship with the narrator’s wife.
Despite the conflicting characters between the narrator and the blind man, they both share preferable virtues. They are both caring. The arguments between the narrator and his wife would not deter him from nurturing a loving relationship with his wife. In fact, they always sat down and solved their differences. The feelings of insecurity were fuelled by the love he had for his wife. It is obvious that he had the interest of maintaining the marital relationship between him and his wife. He loved her so much and confined the grudge he had for the blind man to please her. Then again, he is equally friendly to the blind man. It is mindful to note the possible arguments against the statement. However, it is clear that he sheltered the blind man under his roof. Then again, Robert would explain to him what a cathedral was. In as much way, the blind man is caring. He develops a warm and friendly relationship with Robert’s wife. No wonder, she tells him all her worries and discomforts. For example, she explains to him how she divorced her first husband (Carver, 2003).
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In conclusion, it would be imperative to note that the storyline has posed Robert and Bub as two contrasting characters. Much of the virtues developed by Robert have been propelled by the close friendship the blind man had with his wife. However, the two would yet relate towards a common path out of the close relation they both shared with Robert’s wife. As mentioned earlier, she serves as a bridge between the two. Despite the various criticisms concerning marriage relation in the story, the story serves to explore the pitfalls and bruises “outside” relationship pose to most marriages. The story explains how mutual understanding among married couples would help uphold their expectations.
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