Toward the end of the story "Cathedral," the blind man asks the narrator to describe a cathedral. Why is the narrator unable to do so? What does his inability to do so reveal about himself?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the end of the story "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver, the narrator is sitting with Robert, who is blind. They are watching TV together, and a program comes on which focuses on cathedrals. Suddenly, the protagonist (who is not given a name) asks Robert,

Something has occurred to me. Do you have any idea what a cathedral is? What they look like, that is? Do you follow me? If somebody says cathedral to you, do you have any notion what they’re talking about? Do you know the difference between that and a Baptist church, say?

He suddenly realizes that Robert's view of the world is generally limited to what other people tell him. Robert explains,

"I know they took hundreds of workers fifty or a hundred years to build," he said. "I just heard the man say that, of course. I know generations of the same families worked on a cathedral. I heard him say that, too."

Then, he admits that his understanding of cathedrals is very limited, and he asks the protagonist to describe a cathedral to him. The...

(The entire section contains 645 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team