What stereotypes does the narrator have of the blind ? 

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emilyknight7 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator of the short story admits right away that he is uncomfortable with the idea of having the blind man in his house and says that he gets all his information about blind people from movies and the media. He says,

"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." 

When he meets the blind man, the narrator notes that he doesn't wear dark glasses, which the narrator had thought was a requirement. He mentions that the blind man's eyes creep him out and he wishes he did wear dark glasses. He is also surprised to see that the blind man smokes, which he thought was unusual as the blind cannot see the smoke they exhale. 

At one point in the story, the narrator recounts his wife's history of friendship with the blind man. The tone with which he describes the blind man touching his wife's face to imagine how she looked on their last day working together and the way he describes his feelings listening to one of the tapes the blind man and his wife exchanged and hearing his own name come out of this stranger's mouth suggests that he is uncomfortable with and threatened by the relationship his wife has with the blind man and that this is the reason for his apprehension. 

As the narrator hears more about the blind man's wife dying, however, he is less hostile and more pitying. Still, though, he exhibits stereotypes about how the blind are lacking:

"Image [...] a woman who could go on day after day and never receive the smallest compliment from her beloved. A woman whose husband could never read the expression on her face, be it misery of something better."

Though he is at least compassionate now, the narrator still understands the blind man by what he is lacking, ignoring any possibility of the joy he and his wife might have taken from one another and summing their relationship up as "pathetic."

It isn't until the end of the night, when the narrator decides to make the effort to describe, then help draw a cathedral with the blind man that he begins to see the blind man as an individual person rather than a stereotype. 

Read the study guide:
Cathedral

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