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What is the theme of Raymond Carver's "Cathedral?"

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whitmerc | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 4, 2008 at 4:45 AM via web

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What is the theme of Raymond Carver's "Cathedral?"

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted March 4, 2008 at 1:55 PM (Answer #1)

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"Cathedral," like many of Carver's other stories, portrays individuals isolated from each other for a variety of reasons. The narrator drinks too much and seems unable to adequately communicate with his wife. The wife has earlier tried to commit suicide because of loneliness. Only the blind man, Robert, seems able to form lasting human connections. Unlike Carver's other stories, however, "Cathedral" ends with hope; although there is no proof that the narrator will overcome his isolation, for the moment, he is in communion with himself and another human being.

As enotes.com/cathedral alludes to above is that isolation and loneliness is one theme.  Both the narrator and his wife are unable to effectively communicate with one another; however, his wife communicates freely and well with the blind man.  The narrator is very resistant to getting to know this man and is resentful of his presence. Conversely, another theme would be hope for personal growth, as the narrator seems to have an epiphany of sorts at the end when he makes ther realization that he can communicate with the blind man and that doing so makes him feel very different and alive in many ways.

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srmarquez | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 9, 2011 at 11:38 AM (Answer #3)

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It is obvious that the narrator was unhappy with the arrival of the blind man in their house. He seem to have a negative connotation about people who are blind. Most often, human can be so judgemental which leads us into discriminating other people especially, those who have disabilities. We usually think that they might be of burden to us. Whether we admit or not, most of the time, an individual has the tendency to react this way. The narrator wondered how come, could a blind person can be so interesting to talk with, realizing that they are able to see and understand beyond what others can see. The blind man was able to unravel the truth out of the husband. He realized his weakness as a lover to her wife. The blind man's touch connotes that he cares and that's what the wife in the story needs. Someone who will care and listen to her. 

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