In "Cathedral", is the single primary character round or flat? And is he static or dynamic? And the secondary?

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver, the main character, the husband, is a dynamic character because he undergoes an inner change, an epiphany, by the end of the story. Robert, the blind man, is a static character because he remains the same throughout the story.

The narrator is nameless except for being called "Bub" by Robert, the blind visitor. At the beginning of the story, the Narrator is prejudiced, self-centered, and isolated. In fact, he states, "A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to." He has preconceived ideas concerning blind people, and these notions are all negative. The narrator's life centers on his own needs and his life with his wife appears desolate. They go to bed at different times, and he stays up late watching television. He also dislikes his job.

The narrator's life is empty of meaning. Therefore, when Robert asks him to describe the cathedrals, he cannot because he is blind to inner values. However, when Robert and the narrator draw the cathedral together, the narrator is able to see with his heart, not through his prejudiced eyes. He states, "But I had my eyes closed. I thought I'd keep them that way for a little longer." The narrator can finally see what's important in life with his eyes closed, and he no longer feels he is "inside anything." He is finally free.

On the other hand, Robert is a static character. He has already attained self-realization, and he becomes the mentor/teacher to the narrator's self-discovery. He does not change throughout the short story. Ironically, even though Robert is blind from the beginning to the end of the story, he is the character who sees life for what it is. Robert's states, "I’m always learning something. Learning never ends." Robert's love of life and understanding bring about the change in the narrator.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first primary character is the narrator, who is unnamed.  The second is Robert, the blind man. 

The narrator is a round character who is also dynamic.  See the sources below for descriptions of these character types in detail.  The narrator is round because he has many aspects to his personality.  He is dynamic because he changes throughout the story.  The narrator becomes more open-minded and is able to broaden his perspective.  More importantly, this broadening understanding speaks directly to the unhappiness that he has experienced in his life.  The quotes that best demonstrate the narrator's change are:  "'fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was like nothing else in my life up to now.'' and "I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything." 

Robert is also a round character.  He is witty and funny, with a positive outlook but also realistic expectations of the world.  However, in this story, he is static.  He is the mentor that will bring the narrator to a new plane of existence, and therefore, does not and will not change as a result of the story's actions.