Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What events in Raymond Carver’s life crystalized his development as a short-story writer?

Identify the “inexplicable separations” in two or three of Carver’s short stories. What makes them inexplicable?

The short-story form often allows readers to put themselves briefly into someone else’s shoes. Find a few Carver stories that seem particularly effective in this respect. What techniques account for this success?

Carver’s Cathedral has been translated into more than twenty languages—a fact which suggests the existence of many readers in societies quite different from the United States. What themes, elements of his style, or other aspects of his stories seem best to account for the universality of his appeal?

The stories in Cathedral are fairly evenly divided into first-and third-person narratives. What can you determine about the advantages and disadvantages of each of these modes of narration?