Towards the end of the story "Cathedral," why can't the narrator describe a cathedral to the blind man?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After the narrator's wife falls asleep, her blind friend and he stay up with the television tuned to a random late night show which happens to have cathedrals featured. When Robert asks the narrator to describe the cathedrals, it is difficult for the narrator to do so because he lacks imagination and creativity; indeed, this deficiency may be why the narrator tells Robert that he believes in very little,

“I guess I don’t believe in it. In anything. Sometimes it’s hard..."

Nevertheless, the blind man, whose heart is warm and his mind and spirit expansive, asks the narrator to try to draw the cathedral for him so he can use his imagination and gain an understanding of its shape and size. And, after the narrator takes a ballpoint pen and begins to outline the shape of the cathedral, his creativity is tapped by his efforts and the warm encouragement of Robert.  Indeed, the narrator experiences a revival of his soul and feels that something meaningfully spiritual has brought him outside himself into a communion with others,

My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything.

“It’s really something,” I said.

Clearly, the narrator has been touched by his shared artistic venture with Robert who understands the importance of things of the spirit of which the cathedral is, indeed, symbolic.


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