Symbolism in “Cathedral” In Raymond Carver’s short story, “Cathedral,” a man has his eyes opened up to the world through the lad of his Wolfe blind friend, Robert. Carver employs the use of symbolism in the form art representing insight to highlight the narrators blindness to his life. The narrator is not physically blind, but he is oblivious to the problems he faces. The tapes sent between the narrators wife and Robert were definitely a form of art. They were a medium through which they could communicate and share their feelings and stones with each other.
Their continuous communication Is what built the strong and lasting relationship that the wife and Robert had; A relationship stronger than that she had with her husband. “She hadn’t seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in touch. ” They would communicate by sending recorded conversations on audiotapes to each other, a symbolic expression of their care for each other. They could have written letters perhaps in Braille In place of the tapes, but that would not have been as Intimate of an Interaction.
Sure on the surface, the tapes were Just a method for the woman and the blind man to interface, but they meant much more than that. The tapes were a forum through which they shared their lives with each other. Robert knew who she was and just about everything about her without ever seeing her. He even knew her husband before he met him in person. Robert exclaims upon their first meeting that “l feel like we’ve already met,” and he had never spoken to him prior to this event. Carver uses art in the form of poetry to represent Insight. While working for
Robert ten years ago, the narrator’s wife experienced one of her most intimate encounters with him. “On her last day in the office, the blind man asked if he could touch her face. ” He may have been blind, but he then knew what she looked like, what she felt like. This inspired her to write a poem about the experience. “She was always trying to write a poem. ” Poetry is an outlet of expression, a gateway to Insight, self-discovery, and understanding. She may not have known the meaning or significance of her encounter with Robert, but she was sure to document It In hope of numbering and learning from it. She wrote a poem or two every year, usually after something really important had happened to her. ” She later shows her poem to the narrator to which he thinks little of it and responds with saying “Maybe I Just don’t understand poetry. ” This instance is evidence of the narrator’s lack of creative interpretation and his closed mindedness. The narrator unlike his wife lacks understanding. Robert attempts to open the narrator up to the world a little more after his failed attempt of describing the scene of the cathedral on the television.
He has the narrator draw a picture of the cathedral. Robert guides the narrators hand and has him close his eyes while continuing to draw. This allowed the narrator to concentrate on the mind instead of focusing on what he saw In front of him. He was able to come to a new understanding. “My eyes were still closed. I was In my house. I knew that. But I TLD realization and understanding. It is through art that the narrator obtains the insight that he was lacking. He did not have religion, ” I guess I don’t believe in it. In anything. He was lost and had no ay of seeing to find his way out. He hated his Job, his marriage was suffering, and he had no direction in his life. Roberts drawing of the cathedral exposed the narrator to a whole other level of understanding. “It was really something,” he remarked. There is no way Robert should have been able to draw a cathedral without ever seeing one and it most certainly was not influenced through the shabby description provided by the narrator. It was an eye opening spiritual event that will touch his life much like his wife’s was from Roberts reading of her face.