Critcal analysis of Cathedral story by Raymond Carver







Critical Response of the Cathedral Poem by Raymond Carver

The Cathedral poem by Raymond Carver mainly talks about the unfolding relationship and marital drama involving insecurities in the marriage due to close friendship by outsiders (Clark 104). The story clearly depicts a number of marriage privacy invasions due to poor communication methods. In fact, the story mainly revolves about a man who is not satisfied and finds new strategies of doing things after meeting his new wife’s friend who is blind (Clark 106).

The story also unfolds an encounter of three different people who managed to connect in order to support each other (Clark 108). The story is narrated through epiphany style as well as through a choppy narrator who mostly involves side and defensive remarks in the story. Despite this, the narrator tries to involve the audience in the story through providing a number of inner experiences from the story (Clark 111).

As a matter of fact, the Cathedral poem is mostly trying to depict the various ways that can be applied in overcoming prejudices in life and marriage (Clark 113). Therefore, the main purpose of this paper it to clearly illustrates and provide a clear critical response towards the Cathedral poem by Raymond Caver.

Critical Response of the Cathedral Poem by Raymond Carver

In order to properly and effective provide a good critical response of the Cathedral story. This paper will respond to various aspects of the story including the themes, point of view as well as the characters among many other aspects of the story (Clark 107). To begin with, in the story of Cathedral, Carver clearly uses a first person narration style in order to emphasize the various transcendent happenings in the story (Clark 110).

The narrator is not named, despite being very self-absorbed in the story (Clark 116). The narrator is mostly concerned about how Robert visit will influence and affect him. The story depicts the narrator lack of self-awareness when he pities Robert’s wife, Beulah, thinking that her husband is not interested on her. The narrator fails to consider his conditions despite his ability to see and this illustrates his rough as well as crude narration style (Clark 107). There are various instances in the story that clearly indicates that the narrator is very insecure about his marriage contrary to what he depicts to the audience. For example, when he refers to his wife as his childhood sweetheart it is clear that the love between them is reducing to some extent.

The narrator describes Robert physical appearances including his eyes as well as describing Robert’s activities such as cigarette smoking habits and cooking style (Clark 114). Therefore, Carver clearly uses the first narrator style in order to bring out the various happenings in the story effectively. This is seen where the narrator lacks ideas on what a blind man can do. However, at the end of the story we see Robert guiding the narrator in designing the cathedral with his eyes closed making the incident very poignant.

The major themes in the Cathedral story include the theme of physical vision as well as the theme of looking or observing (Clark 112). For example, in the story the narrator is able to look at his house as well as his wife. He is also able to look at Robert when he arrives in his house and this clearly indicates that the narrator is not blind. Due to his ability to see the narrator thinks that he is superior to Robert contrary to the expectation of the audience.

The narrator is not able to see anything beyond of the surface and thinks that he knows his wife well. However, Robert who is his wife’s friend is blind but can still see more inner things than him (Clark 103). The narrator can physically see things but do not involve deeper level of looking and seeing things. Robert listens and understands the narrator’s wife more than him leading to the narrator’s wife liking him more. In most cases, the narrator only annoys his wife and their marriage lacks clear understanding ((Clark 105). Therefore, the theme of seeing and looking is clearly depicted in the story as we can see Robert a blind man more understandable of narrator’s wife needs than the narrator who can see.

There is also the theme of insight which is illustrated in the story through the drawing, storytelling as well as experiences among the narrator, his wife as well as Roberts’s experiences. The narrator mostly gains insight about life when he finally draws a picture of the Cathedral and the blind man, Robert (Clark 109). This indicates how the narrator gains insight of understanding and realizing the importance of inner knowledge. Robert also very understands and is able to provide the narrator with insight in the process of drawing experience.

There are also other themes that are depicted in the story such as the theme of drinking and drawing. For example, the narrator’s wife tries to kill herself but before he does that he takes a lot of drinks. At the same time, there are many instances where the narrator drinks including when he waits for Robert as well as when his wife tells him about Beulah (Clark 110). The three of them also drinks at a number of occasions including during evening times. The taking of cigarettes as well as marijuana is also common in the story thus; the dream of drinking is well depicted in the story.

In the story, there are various styles that have been used in order to portray these themes including the symbolism style. For example, the cathedral that the narrator draws at the end of the story mainly symbolizes true sight which is the ability to involve deeper level of seeing things. On the other hand, the audiotapes that Robert and the narrator’s wife usually send to each other mainly represent and symbolize the understanding between the narrator’s wife and the blind man (Clark 115). Therefore, Carver has clearly and effectively used the style of symbolism in the story in order to depict the theme of sight and understanding.

On the analysis and critical response towards the major characters in the story, the major characters in the story include the narrator. The narrator is the main character in the story and is mostly depicted as someone who lacks self-awareness and understanding of his wife. This is evident when we see Robert being helpful to his wife than him in many occasions (Clark 109). Another important character in the story is Robert, who is blind but is very compassionate about other’s needs (Clark 118). He manages to understand the narrator’s wife problems although he is blind. Finally, there is the narrator’s wife who is a friend to Robert and they exchange audiotapes in order to share the narrator’s wife marital problems.

The Impact of the Story towards Blind People

This story clearly recognizes the importance and ability of blind people of understanding others needs and values. For example, in the story Robert who is a blind man is able to understand some of crucial needs and interests of the narrator’s wife. The blind man is also able to bring together the narrator and his wife thereby promoting their marriage bond. Therefore, the story clearly recognizes the importance of those with disability in the society such as the blind.


In conclusion, it is clear from this paper that the Cathedral story by Raymond Carver is mainly about three characters namely, the narrator, Robert and the narrator’s wife. The story mainly revolves around poor understanding man who is called the narrator and his wife’s marital problems. The story also illustrates about a blind man who is very caring, understanding and is able to encourage others including the narrator’s wife. Therefore, the story of Cathedral by Raymond Carver mainly depicts various marital problems and how clear understanding of each other in marriage can improve the marriage relationship.

Works Cited

Clark, Robert C. “Keeping the Reader in the House: American Minimalism, Literary Impressionism, and Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral.” Journal of Modern Literature 36.1 (2012): 104-118.