The tone of the unnamed first-person narrator in Raymond Carver’s short story “The Cathedral” (1981) masks itself as jealousy and contempt but has more to do with emotional numbness and the discomfort arising from it. The narrator is aware that he cannot feel much or connect with other human beings, let alone his wife’s blind friend, Robert, with whom he has little in common. Thus, he is threatened by the prospect of Robert’s impeding visit and of sharing his physical space with him.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.
What makes the narrator uncomfortable about Robert's presence is his own fixed notion about Robert’s perceived disability. But bizarrely, his response is negative even when Robert’s “blindness”...
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