Cathedral Questions and Answers
by Raymond Carver

Start Your Free Trial

In "Cathedral," why does the narrator continually refer to Robert as the "blind man," rather than by name?  

Expert Answers info

William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,416 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

It may be a mistake to attach too much significance to the fact that the narrator keeps referring to Robert as "the blind man." When an author gives a character a particular identifying habit or physical trait, he has to keep reminding the reader of it or the reader is likely to forget it. Such an identifying mark is sometimes called a "shtick." It is of the utmost importance that the reader visualize Robert as blind, but the name Robert is of no great importance. This is largely a matter of narrative technique.

In The Catcher in the Rye, for example, Salinger keeps reminding the reader that Holden Caulfield is wearing a red hunting hat. This helps the reader visualize the hero, and it also serves to characterize him as still a kid trying to be a grown-up, as well as possibly to characterize him as someone who is "hunting" for something. The hunting cap is a "shtick." There is probably no better word to describe these literary devices.

You will note that there are other things about...

(The entire section contains 567 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial