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What details in “Cathedral” make clear the narrator’s initial attitude toward...

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lottaquestions | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 13, 2009 at 3:16 PM via web

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What details in “Cathedral” make clear the narrator’s initial attitude toward blind people?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 14, 2009 at 1:07 AM (Answer #1)

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The narrator is a narrow man.  He and his wife seem happy, but she clearly shows her frustration at their isolation from the rest of the world.  She is excited at the idea of a visit from an old friend - too excited, as if this sort of vist happens rarely.  Our prickly narrator is surly about the idea from the get-go.

However, when he finds out the visitor is a blind man, he not only shows himself even more caustic but more ignorant.  He believes, for example, that all "the blind don't smoke" and that they must always wear glasses.  It is his own narrative thoughts, as well as his resistant attitude, that show us his negative attitude.  Take this quote:

"And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed."

Robert - a named character as opposed to the unnamed narrator - is clearly a bright, energetic, and joyful man.  He immediately contradicts the narrator's presuppositions.  Carver skillfully builds his theme by using Robert as a foil to all the narrator's prejudices, and by allowing the blind man to teach the protagonist "to see".

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