How does the blind man, Robert, give the narrator new vision in Carver's "Cathedral"?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Originally, the narrator had made several botched attempts at explaining to Robert what exactly cathedrals looked like.  Frustrated he gives up and says, "“You’ll have to forgive me...It just isn’t in me to do it. I can’t do any more than I’ve done.”  This statement of defeat is pretty typical of the narrator to this point; he is a rather pessimistic and unhappy man. 

At this point, Robert steps in to help, holding the narrator's hand as he draws a cathedral. The narrator begins to change.  All of a sudden, he CAN draw it, he CAN help Robert to see it.  He is drawing roofs, buttresses, windows, the whole thing, when before he was stuttering and felt pessimistic and incompetent.  Of the experience, the narrator offers the following summation, which considering his pessimism, is huge:  "It was like nothing else in my life up to now."  He is so moved by the experience that he finds it incomparable to anything else he has ever experienced-pretty profound.  It is so moving that he closes his eyes, and without  even looking at it, concludes, "It's really something."  Robert helps him to get outside of his shell, to experience something out of his comfort zone, and finally to trust himself and his own capabilities.  He opens the narrator's eyes to his own potential, and to beauty that exists within himself.