In the short story "the cathedral,"can you explain how the husband is figuratively blind?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think, in many ways, the narrator is blind to the experiences of everyone else: his wife and Robert, the blind man. He tells his wife's history in a really detached and emotionless way, refusing even to name her first husband. Notably, Robert does not even get a name for the first several pages, and the narrator never names his wife. It is as though the only person's experiences that he finds value in are his own, the only person whose feelings he can begin to understand are his own, and this is why no one else, besides Robert, gets a name; it is as though the narrator is sort of denying them personhood. He cannot see outside himself or empathize with anyone outside himself—perhaps this is why he has no friends (as his wife points out).

In the end, though, Robert asks him to close his eyes and draw a cathedral with Robert's hand resting on his own. Doing this, the narrator says, "it was like nothing else in my life up till now." And then, when Robert tells him to go ahead and open his eyes, he says, "but I had my eyes closed. I thought I'd keep them that way for a little longer. I thought it was something I ought to do." The narrator has begun to see what it feels like to be someone else, to relate to their challenges and experiences, something he had been blind to up until now.

mkcapen1 | Student

The husband in the short story "The Cathedral" is waiting on a man who is blind to come and visit.  The blind man's wife has died and he is traveling through the area.  The man does not look forward to the visit.  It is almost as if he sees the blindness in the other man as a repulsive thing lacking anything of value.  When they visit a Cathedral the blind man asks the man to describe it.  The man realizes that he can not give a good description of the Cathedral.  The blind man just can't see, but the man is actually the blind one.  He was blind to the capabilities and depth of the person who has no sight. He is figuratively blind.