In "Cathedral" what is the narrator's problem with connecting?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Until the end of the story, the narrator has a hard time connecting with anyone, including his wife.  He spends most of the story complaining about his wife, and her supposedly irrational obsession and friendship with Robert, the blind man.  And that isn't all that he complains about in regards to her--he throws in sarcastic comments about her ex-husband (he states of him, "Her officer—why should he have a name?"), about her poems, and much else.  So, he doesn't really, at this point, feel much of a connection with his wife.  Her friendship with Robert baffles him, as does a lot of things about her.

It isn't just his wife that he has a hard time connecting with; at one point his wife tells him "You don't have any friends...Period."  This reveals that he really doesn't have any significant connections with other people; he goes through life, it seems, alienated and a bit bitter and sarcastic about it.  He has a hard time getting past his cynical nature to feel sympathy or compassion for everyone.  He mocks the death of Robert's wife, he is distant and indifferent to his wife's previous suicide attempt, and expresses disdain any time any sort of details or stories are brought up about other people, in an attempt to help him to understand them.  He seems very uncomfortable with forming close ties, possibly because it forces him out of his comfort zone, and forces him to confront his own insecurities.

At the end, there is hope; hopefully, the narrator will take the profound cathedral-drawing experience and apply it to all areas of his life.  Hopefully, it helps to open him up to new experiences that will encourage him to make more personal connections.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck! 

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