“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver

Автор: Пользователь скрыл имя, 15 Декабря 2012 в 19:27, творческая работа

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 “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver.

The novel is written as the thoughts of the narrator, an average American citizen, whose life is suddenly disturbed by a visit of a blind man, an old friend of his beloved wife. They got to know each other a decade ago, when she was run out of money and saw a note in the paper, saying that a blind man needed someone to read to him. Soon they had become good friends, and went on keeping in touch by sending tapes to each other, telling about everything that happened in their lives and were somehow important. The narrator is quite nervous about this blind man mainly because he had never personally knew anyone of this kind, and this nervousness filled him with cynicism. When he sees the man he is even more embarrassed, due to the discrepancies of how the blind man actually looks and how he thought he would be. This man smokes, doesn’t wear glasses and has a full beard. Throughout the visit the whole atmosphere is pierced with awkwardness: the narrator knows only that “the blind moved slowly and never laughed”, this knowledge he got from the movies, he asks stupid questions, justifying himself by admitting that “I didn’t know what else to say”; the wife is doing her best to make her friend feel comfortable, and the blind man, Robert, tries to calm them all down, repeating that he is fine and that he does feel at home. Tasty meal, numerous drinks and marijuana help them to maintain the conversation. Soon the wife goes upstairs, because she is too tired. The husband switches on the TV and stops at the channel, telling about European architecture, mostly cathedrals. Robert has no idea of what them look like, and asks the husband to describe them to him. The husband got tangled with different words and descriptions, but finally gives up. However Robert offers an idea: the husband should draw a cathedral, while he holds his hand on his and follows the lines.  And suddenly the husband “rises with the spirit of the blind man”, and from now on, he starts to understand the blind man, takes him as an equal.


It seems that the main point is in the attitude of the can-see man towards the one who can’t. But who is really “blind”? Is it a man who has such a disability, or another one, who is not able to apprehend clearly what it really means? It may not be so evident, but this “blind”, emotionally blind, fully and completely, almost until the end of the story is the Husband. The answer lies in the fact, that he can not see Robert as a personality, but just as a blind human being, who is different because he has a handicap.

Another burden of the story is jealousy. Jealousy to the past. While narrating, the husband mentions the ex-husband of his wife, “her childhood sweetheart”, but he doesn’t go on into greater details, he interrupts his description sharply, because he doesn’t like it. And the blind man himself is a reminder of his wife’s past, that part of her life when he was a stranger to her, that part, when he had no role and no name. Robert is a ghost. The ghosts of the past always seem to poison our happy present, as we as ever want to monopolize the thoughts and the heart of our lovers, of the people who means something to us.

The striking feature of the Carver’s style is asceticism. It concerns not only his style of writing, laconic and simple to the limit (but not dry and bare), but also the choice of the plot. His stories are different episodes, taken from the middle of the person’s life. On the one hand, they can be easily retold in several words, but on the other hand, they can not be retold at all, because it will take the whole life to finish. Outwardly his stories starts with “nothing” and end up with “nothing” as well. However in this small space a reader manages to experience the whole life of the character. It seems that we personally know the characters of Carver’s stories. They all seem to live in so-called “single storey America”. His characters are we ourselves, our neighbors. They frequently approach to a line, in front of which they come to know real themselves. And in this story, the husband, while drawing a cathedral with the hand of the blind man, starts to feel the happiness, that he has never ever came across during his previous life.

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