Cathedral And Myth Of The Cave

Plato’s "Myth of the Cave" and Carver’s Cathedral provide insight into
parallel words. The protagonists in each story are trapped in a world of
ignorance because each is comfortable in the dark, and fearful of what knowledge
a light might bring. They are reluctant to venture into unfamiliar territory.

Fortunately the narrator in the Cathedral is forced by circumstances to take a
risk. This risk leads him into new world of insight and understanding. The
narrator in "The Cathedral" begins the story with the issue of hesitation in
seeing the light. The light in this story just like the light in Plato’s

"Myth of the Cave" represents reality. The narrator expresses the fear of
expressing reality when he said " I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He
was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came
from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed.

Sometimes they were led by seeing eye-dogs. A blind man in my house was not
something I look forward to". (Page 98). The narrator felt that being blind
was like being in a type of prison and the preconceived notion of
self-imprisonment was frightening to him. He felt that blindness was exactly
like being a prisoner in Plato’s Cave, a scary world where no light ever
penetrated. Unfortunately, the husband is imprisoned in his own ignorance. His
view of blindness had come from Hollywood’s portrayal of blind people. As far
as he is concerned, his situation is completely normal. He knows there are lots
of people just like him. In "The Cathedral" the extent of the husband’s
ignorance or naivetй is extremely irritating. When his wife tells him the
beautiful story of the blind man’s romantic relationship with his wife Beulah,
all he could think of is " What a pitiful life this woman must have led.

Imagine a woman who could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her
loved one. A woman who could on day after day and never see the smallest
compliment from her beloved. A woman whose husband could never read the
expression on her face, be it misery or something better". (Page 100). But the
blind man had sight in the form of intuitiveness. This sight gave him greater
vision than the sighted man. The blind man had a sense of and source of reality
in the truth and strength of the relationship. This man was unlike the prisoners
in the cave. The humans in the cave had no such reality. No love warmth or human
contact. The prisoners in the cave had no knowledge of those things. The fire
and the shadow provided the only reality for them. This was their source of
knowledge and their source of contact with the world. For these people their"cave life" and their ignorance created a world worse than the blind
man’s. Unknown to the prisoners in the cave an elevated causeway crosses
through the cave. The prisoners do not know where this road will lead them. In

Carver’s "Cathedral", the narrator did not realize that the blind man was
in his "causeway" out of ignorance. He did not realize that the simple act
of his wife inviting the blind guest would lead to major new discoveries about
himself and his ignorance. The narrator’s wife has been exposed to knowledge,
which is what Robert represents in this story, for many years. She was more
aware of the world because of her relationship with Robert. This exposure was
instrumental in presenting her husband with a learning opportunity. Her husband
was given the opportunity to see the light. This was territory into which he
would have never ventured on his own. His fears from his own cave prevented such
risky behavior. This was opportunity for him to learn, grow, and develop in a
myriad of ways. He would gain in his relationship with his wife. He would gain
new insights about himself, and most of all he would gain knowledge that would
pull him out of his own cave. The narrator saw the blind man "drink" and
‘smoke cigarette down to the nubbin". He saw the blind man "enjoy dope and
whiskey’. These glimpses of reality opened his life as he made discoveries
that risk enhanced his life-risk did not detract from it. The prisoners in

Plato’s Cave do not realize that reality is as near as the causeway out of the
cave. They do not know that they must take risk to gain knowledge. They are
comfortable in the