The Deference between Looking and Seeing Everything given to a person in life is a blessing, and a person has the opportunity to choose whether they want to appreciate what has been given to them or not. A blessing can be small or large, whether it be a house to live in, a car to drive In, or even eyes to see. In the short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, the narrator Is unappreciative towards everything he has In his life Including his wife. His wife Invites an old friend who shares an emotional connection with her which the narrator ND wife do not share, to spend the night.
The narrator becomes skeptical about Robert spending the night, especially after finding out that the man Is blind. During the blind man’s visit, the narrator learns a valuable lesson. This story shares a strong message of relationships which breaks down to Intimacy, Jealousy, communication and acceptance. It started In the beginning of the story with the Invitation of Robert to spend the night, showing the Intimacy and Jealousy, leading to the symbolism of the audio tapes representing communication, and ending with the symbolism of the raring of the cathedral opening the narrators eyes to reality and representing acceptance.
In the beginning of the story the narrator shows ignorance towards Robert being blind. The narrator is in his own world and does not have a strong relationship with his wife. They barely stay awake to see each other, not having any intimacy whatsoever with one another, and not even going to bed at the same time together. “Every night I smoked dope and stayed up as long as I could before I fell asleep. My wife and I hardly went to bed at the same time” (Carver 39). On the other hand, after he wife worked one summer for Robert, she developed a connection with him immediately.
The wife’s relationship grew with the blind man towards the end of the lob, and he became a sentimental part of her life after he had asked to touch her face. “He touched his fingers to every part of her face, her nose even her neck! She never forgot it. She even tried to write a poem about it” (Carver 33). Their intimacy grew stronger which made her appreciate their friendship more. For this reason, she tries sharing her experience with her husband by showing a poem she wrote about IM, but the narrator still showed no interest.
Even though Robert is can’t physically see the narrators wife, he understands her more deeply than the narrator does because he truly listens. The wife and Robert have been keeping in contact with each other for ten years and the wife feels Like she can confide In him. She even talks about her private situations with her husband. The narrator knows about their ten year relationship and is somewhat Jealous of It since he does not have that relationship with her. After Roberts loses his wife, he Is Invited by the wife to spend he night.
The narrator is not fond of the Idea especially due to his envy and the fact that he only knows about blind people based from on what he has seen In movies. He ledges them as Impaired people who moved slowly and never laughed. Unlike the narrator, the blind man keeps an opened mind to new experiences and states he Is always “learning something new because learning never ends”(Carver 39) showing Aside from the fact that the narrator had lack of intimacy with his wife and was full of Jealousy, communication was also lacking in their relationship.
The audio tapes lay an important role in the story that shows communication is needed in a relationship. The audiotapes that Robert and the wife send back and forth to each other are a representation of how communication, relationships and understanding have nothing to do with sight at all. Robert and the wife have been able to have a nice relationship by communicating through these tapes for ten years. They talked about every situation in their lives including their relationships.
When the narrator hears a clip of Roberts tape, he says it sounds only like “harmless chitchat,” not legalizing that these types of deep conversations that Robert and the wife are sharing is what he needs in his own relationship. Roberts relationship with the narrator’s wife is much deeper then he can understand. Robert was unable to see his own wife which must have been hard for his wife to deal with but he was at least able to see his wife in his own way. The narrator has never truly seen his own wife. His blindness to his wife’s feelings separates him from her. It’s like having two strangers living under one roof.
When things got complicated in reality he settled it by taking drugs o take him to his own world so he won’t have to deal with the fact that he is unhappy. Towards the end of the story the narrator’s life gets turned around as he gets to understand and accept Robert. While they are gathered around the television a cathedral is being shown on the screen. The narrator questions Robert asking him about if he even knows what a cathedral is since he is blind. Robert asks the narrator to describe the cathedral to him but words were too complicated for him to use. So they decide to draw a cathedral together.
As they draw the cathedral with Roberts and on the narrator’s hand, the narrator starts thinking deep into the cathedral drawing every detail possible. As soon as Robert tells him to close his eyes but keep drawing the details are still flowing in his mind. When the drawing is complete Robert is amazed and tells the narrator to open his eyes. The narrator at that moment has an epiphany. He thinks to himself “My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything” (Carver 135). He keeps his eyes closed yet what he sees is greater than anything he has seen with his eyes open.
At this point the reader can conclude that the narrator is now able to understand that he has not been looking at life as he should. He is finally able to accept Robert understanding his point of view and can accept and understand that he hasn’t been looking at his wife in a deeper way. The overall theme with in this story was that there is more meaning to something other than its outer layer. It took a blind man to help the narrator to actually see. In “Cathedral” what is known as looking is physical vision, but in order to really see, it requires a stronger and deeper involvement.