This minimalist story is written by the famous author, Raymond Carver. Carver was born in 1938 in the small town of Clandestine, Oregon, to an alcoholic father who worked at a sawmill and his mother who worked as a waitress. After graduating from high school, Carver and his family moved to California, where he did not continue his education until 1958, where he started taking writing classes with the writer John Gardner, who introduced him to the fascinating world of writing.
Carver was a unique writer with a very distinct writing style and a truly minimalist and he is often marred to the writing of Ernest Hemingway. Carver liked to focus on the blue-collar and middle-class people facing dreary truths, disappointments, and small revelations in their ordinary lives . The story “Cathedral” is no exception. Analysis of “Cathedral” Being able to look inside your own mind is not an easy ability to achieve. When you are living your everyday life, you are Just seeing things as they are and the true meaning that lies within is hidden behind the obvious.
It is exactly the ability to see in inside of yourself, that is the central point into the understanding of this minimalists short story by Raymond Carver. The main character and also narrator lives with his wife in what seems to be an ordinary middleman’s neighborhood. He finds himself in a situation where a good and blind friend of his wife, Robert, is coming to visit their house. The narrator find himself Jealous of the men from his wife’s past and doesn’t really want Robert to visit. “A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to”2.
When Robert arrives to their house, the narrator feels himself way more superior to Robert, due to the fact that the narrator still has is vision and the ability to actually see things. “l saw her get out of the car and the door. She was still wearing a smile. Just amazing. “3 The narrator cannot understand why a blind person can be so interesting, and does not accept the fact that a blind person can admire and be lovely without his eyes functioning right. He clearly Judges others people without having met them before.
Everything he does seems reasonable in his own eyes because he never turns his critical eye on himself. But he is alone because he has no friends, he stays up watching TV, and smoke marijuana alongside when his wife goes to bed. As he tells Robert late in the story, “l guess I don’t believe in it. In anything. “5 The only thing the narrator has is his own self- centered person. It may be possible to say that the narrator is the truly blind person in this story. That is because he displays an immense lack of self-understanding that perhaps makes him even blinder than Robert.
The narrator and Robert are really different in their way of understanding other people. Because even though the narrator’s eyes are functioning Just well, he still has the difficulty of understanding people’s real thoughts and feelings which are Just beneath the obvious. He pities the relationship of the defunct Bellay and Robert, “And then I found myself thinking what a pitiful life this woman must have led A woman who could go on day after day and never receive the smallest compliment from her beloved. 6 This specific quote really reveals the degree of the narrator’s deception about what kind of husband he is and what substances he thinks are important for him in a relationship. He thinks Blush’s life has been pitiful, even though his wife has told him exactly the opposite, “After they had been inseparable for eight years–my wife’s rod, inseparable,”7 The only argument the narrator uses towards calling Blush’s life a pity, is that Robert never knew how she physically looked. For the narrator the ability to actually see the other’s appearance seems to be the crucial element in a relationship.
But Robert really shows that a relationship without the physical aspect is able to work, and actually can work very well. But the narrator goes through a development, which turns the self-centered side of him into a more understanding person like Robert. This occurs when the narrator closes his eyes and in coherence tit Robert and draw a cathedral. During the drawing something happens, he has a revelation during the drawing, where he experience that with his eyes closed, he is able to see more than he has ever seen before. “His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper.
It was like nothing else in my life up to now. “8 This revelation happens despite the narrator’s dismissive and earlier prejudice of Robert. This dismissive side of him slowly disappears, when his wife falls asleep. They are forced to have a conversation and the narrator uses alcohol and marijuana to prepare and ease up for the conversation. L asked him if he wanted another drink, and he said sure. Then I asked if he wanted to smoke some dope with me. “9 This is the narrator’s way of removing the awkwardness and enter a more secure and dreamy universe.
When they begin to draw the cathedral, even though the narrator actually is able to see it, he is unable to describe the cathedral to Robert, “I’m Sorry. But it looks like that’s the best I can do for you. I’m Just no good at it. “10 This adds to the fact that the narrator only is able to concert on the obvious and is not able to “see” its deeper meaning. The act of drawing the cathedral with his eyes closed lets the narrator look inside himself Just like Robert, and then understand the deeper meaning.
Therefore can the cathedral be seen as a symbol of vision and insight and a place that is religious to worship and to finding peace. The drawing of a cathedral has opened a door for the narrator, where he can enter a new and inexperienced place, where he can get beyond what is visible with open eyes. The message of this story is that if you do not put any effort into seeing beneath the surface, you will never be able to actually see the deeper meaning in life. True “seeing,” as Robert is an example of.
It involves a lot more than Just looking at the obvious in life, and that is what makes up the true message in this story. There is a clear difference between looking and seeing, and that is what Raymond has tried to highlight. So how does this story fit the minimalist genre? This specific story fits the minimalist genre very well. The first minimalist device is the fact that Carver really uses the “Show it, don’t tell it” technique. He uses what seem to be an ordinary couple, a harmless friend and normal everyday life objects, to rotary a story with a much deeper meaning beneath the surface.
The description is of the setting and characters are very limited, and we have to analyses the different actions each individual person do, to understand who they are. It is from the dialogue between the persons in which we can analyses and interpret on how the persons really are and why they behave as they do. The final minimalist device is the ending. It does not have a final resolution; we are Just left with an open ending not knowing what is going to occur next with the narrator and his newly achieved revelation.