What is Carver's minimalist style in Cathedral?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Carver did not like the label of minimalist writer, critics are almost unanimous in considering his style the quintessential example of minimalism. Literary minimalism is defined as spare in style and as stripping down to the essential elements both subject matters and their treatment. Like Hemingway's style, Carver's relies on ellepsis and omissions rather than on an accumulation of details. As he stated in an essay "On Writing", Carver thought it was possible "to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language to endow those things - a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman's earring - with immense, even starling power". Daily events part of the routines of common people are Carver's subject matters in Cathedral whose world is dominated by social problems such as unemployment, alcholism and alienation. Carver's characters struggle to carry on their lives. This is an undoubtedly minimalist feature as is the matter of fact narrative tone with sentences that almost snaps at readers. Yet, compared to Carver's previous work, the stories collected in Cathedral leave more space to hope for their characters and for their possibility to experience shared emotions and overcome their loneliness.