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Setting Characterization and Symbolism Explored in Carvers Cathedral

Moments of epiphany are rarely planned and even less expected but we always seemed to know when they arrive. The narrator in Raymond Carver's short story, "Cathedral," experiences such a life-changing epiphany late one night in his living room with the aid of a blind man. He learns there is much more to life than he once thought and there are many different ways to perceive it. Through the setting, characterization, and symbolism in the story, Carver emphasizes the significance of the narrator's epiphany. The characters and their relationships allow us to understand the narrator's true character. At the beginning of the story, the narrator is uneasy about Robert's staying in his home. He bluntly tells us that he "wasn't enthusiastic about his visit" (Carver 209) and, in addition to that, he admits that Robert's blindness bothers him. We also learn that the narrator's understanding of the blind is somewhat limited. For example, he says that his notions of blindness "came from the movies" (209) and he assumed that blind people "moved slowly and never laughed" (209). When he sees Robert, he is surprised that he has a beard and that he did not use a walking cane and did not wear dark glasses. He is also surprised to see that Robert not only smokes cigarettes but that he smokes them "down to the nubbin and then lit another one" (217). In addition, as the night and the conversation go on, the narrator learns that Robert is a "regular blind jack-of-all-trades" (218). These impressions allow us to see how the narrator's views of the blind are very narrow-minded. It is also important to notice the tension in the narrator's relationship with his wife. This relationship helps us understand the development of the narrator because we watch him change. On the night of Robert's visit, the narrator continues to do and say things that upset his wife. His wife writes poetry and even wrote Robert a poem, w...

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Setting Characterization and Symbolism Explored in Carvers Cathedral. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:39, August 20, 2014, from