In "The Cathedral" how does the point of view contribute to the effectiveness of the story?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view comes from a pretty sarcastic and rude man, who seems to be bitter and sardonic about pretty much everything in his life.  Why he is so bitter, why he seems so unhappy, isn't super clear; but he obviously has issues with his wife and marriage, and potentially some jealousy issues in regards to Robert, before he even shows up.  This attitude contributes to the effectiveness of the story, because it provides a nice contrast to the ending, to the fact that this bitter, whiny man can be touched by something.  As he draws the cathedral, he states in his simple, straight-forward way, "It was like nothing else in my life up to now."  For the narrator, that statement is pretty big, and it wouldn't have meant as much if he had been a happy, go-lucky type of guy who was impressed by anything and everything.  Nothing impressed him.  Of his wife's ex, he writes, "Her officer—why should he have a name?"  Of his wife's poetry:  "I didn't think much of the poem."  Of the blind man's tragic loss of his wife:  "Pathetic".  Of his wife's attempted suicide:  "But instead of dying, she got sick."  This is a man impressed by nothing, cynical about everything, and pretty unpleasant.  The fact that drawing cathedrals with Robert was "like nothing else" in his life up to that point is made all the more significant because of how unimpressionable the man is.  It makes the ending more profound, touching, and effective.