Free «Cathedral-Raymond Carver» Essay Sample

Title of the Story. In this story, Cathedrals do not make any emergence until the third section, where readers can appreciate the relevance of the title, Cathedral. The title Cathedral is subject to documentaries in television and in the narrator’s drawings. A Cathedral is a church and there are no secular cathedrals (Carver  220). However, the title Cathedral may not entirely give a religious theme as noted in the story.

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Setting. Cathedral was first set in the year 1981, when the black and white televisions were advancing to color ones. Additionally, the cassette tapes were considered as a cutting edge technology at the time. However, the key setting of the story is a middle-class home in the city of New York. In a story, such as this, the readers may expect the setting to be more complex; however, it is clearly not, since an ordinary living room with a huge meal, marijuana and a lot of drinks gets transformed into a place of worship, the cathedral.

Plot. The plot revolves around one blind man who spends the night in a house that belongs to the narrator. Apparently, the narrator’s indifference to blind people borders with dislike. The narrator had never met any blind person, but had seen them when he was watching movies.

Characters. The key characters in this story are the narrator, blind man Robert and the narrator’s wife. The focus of the story is the couple’s relationship with the blind man. While the narrator’s wife can be seen to be fond of the blind man, but the narrator, however, is seen to portray his indifference, jealousy and prejudice towards Robert. Like other stories, Cathedral shows the life of individuals who are isolated from each other’s lives (Carver, 205).


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The male narrator who is unnamed is seen to be the protagonist of this story. The story is narrated from the narrator’s view point. Additionally, the narrator is seen to be jealous of the friendship that exists between his wife and Robert.


He is the blind man in the story who is the friend to the narrator’s wife. He identifies himself to be a patient man, who cares for the narrator’s wife. Despite the narrator’s rudeness, he remains true to himself, and is patient and pleasant.


She is unnamed in the story but outlined as a significant character. She is a friend of the blind man and portrayed as a young woman who has kept in touch with her friends like the blind man.


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Loneliness and Alienation. Most of the characters in the story are outlined as people who are lonely and alienated. The narrator is seen to be extremely unhappy with what he does and unconnected to himself and other people. When he finds out about the visit by Robert he states that he is not so enthusiastic.

Mood. The mood created promotes the reader’s interests for the features of this Cathedral (Carver, 140). The narration is outlined as the unnamed middle-aged.

The reader is made aware of Robert’s visit and the previous life of the narrator’s wife. However, the narration is full of numerous gaps that the narrator leaves for the reader to fill.

Conflict. From this story, it is evident that Robert and the narrator’s wife have in the last few years been communicating, thereby, revealing the details each other’s lives. There is precise evidence that the narrator is jealous of Robert. This is the conflict and, perhaps, the reason why the narrator is seen to have issues with people who are blind.


 The story highlights imagery, symbols and allegory. The temples shown in the story have value to the messages that they send to the readers.

Use of the Title Cathedral. The author of the short story notes that there is nothing symbolic about the use of the word cathedral.

Robert’s Coin. For the blind man, the ten-peso coin is a symbol of the relationship that exists between him and Beulah, his wife (Carver, 210). It represents a symbol because it has monetary value and the reminder of the life he had with Beulah.

My Opinion. Unlike all the other stories that Raymond Carver has written, Cathedral ends with the idea of hope in the minds of readers. However, there is no proof that the narrator may ever overcome his isolation, thereby, can be seen to be still the same as at the start of the story

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