How would you describe the narrator’s relationship with his wife in "Cathedral"?

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jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

The husband also seems to have some good old-fashioned jealousy regarding his wife's relationships with other men.  Here are some examples.

He recalls how his wife told him about the last day that she had read for the blind man:

...the blind man asked if he could touch her face...She told me he touched his fingers to evey part of her face, her nose--even her neck!

When the husband tells us about his wife's first husband, he describes him as, "this man who'd first enjoyed her favors."

When the blind man arrives, the husband seems jealous of the attention that his wife showers on her old friend:

My wife finally took her eyes off the blind man and looked at me.  I had the feeling she didn't like what she saw.


kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

In "Cathedral" the narrator's relationship with his wife is one of isolation and distanced silence. Isolation is a frequent theme of Carver's short stories. Robert, the blind man who is theoretically isolated from others by his inability to see physically, is the one who builds and maintains the "cathedral" of human connection, which is the antithesis of isolation. There seems to hostility and bitterness in the narrator's isolation from his wife. This is either the result of or the cause of his drinking and her extreme responses to the feelings of utter loneliness--the result of isolation--that she feels. Also, she is disappointed that the narrator closes himself off further by his use of alcohol and marijuana as is evidenced in her disappointment when the narrator and Robert smoke marijuana.

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