Cathedral By Raymond Carvers
"For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know
in part; but then I shall know even as I am known" (1 Corinthians 13). The
narrator of Raymond Carver\'s "Cathedral" is a man living a life of
monotony, continuously feeding the cold and bigoted mind that we witness for the
first part of the story. The process of guiding Robert through the drawing of
the cathedral, removes the narrator from that dark looking glass and initiates a
tranformation in which he is compelled to meet himself face to face; this
awakening stirs the narrator\'s humility, imagination, and faith. It is human
nature to embrace preconceptions regarding the facets of daily life, from
politics to people. It is, as well, innate to consider oneself better than
another. An awakening such as the narrator\'s, however, ruptures the protective
shield that surrounding steadfast biases, and forces the person to assess their
position in the greater schema of humankind. A bias that surfaces early on, is
the mention of Robert\'s wife, "Beulah!" The narrator exclaims,
"That\'s a name for a colored woman." (Carver, "Cathedral,"

182) Here, by attaching a stereotype to a simple name, he exhibits the precise
indiscretion of a closed-minded bigot, and then eventually reaches humility
through his awakening. The narrator possesses several other prejudices that also
hinder his humility. Later on, for example, the narrator sees Robert for the
first time and the man\'s appearance startles him: "This blind man, feature
this," he says, "he was wearing a full beard! A beard on a blind
man!" (183) Later still, the narrator reinforces his portrayal of an
ignorant, presumptuous man when he notices that Robert doesn\'t "use a cane
and he [doesn\'t] wear dark glasses, [having] always thought dark glasses were a
must for the blind." (183) However, the narrator sheds these stereotypes
once he engages in the \'cathedral\' conversation with Robert; the two begin to
compare how well each of them envisions a cathedral. For instance, Robert gives
facts that he has just heard off the television, demonstrating his limited
knowledge. The narrator then attempts a description of a Cathedral,
"they\'re really big," the narrator explains, "they\'re
massive;" (188), and subsequently realizes just how little he knows as
well. The narrator realizes that with the gift of sight he can really see little
more than a blind man . . . And it is here that the narrator awakens to his
newly humbled -- equal -- position alongside Robert. Up to this point, the
narrator fancied himself a superior person because of his sight. Suddenly, with
this moment of awakening, down came that shield protecting his closed-minded
presumptions. By engaging in the same action that helped him realize his
humbleness, the narrator retrieves his imagination. For so long he had been
stifling his innate creativity, choosing instead to allow outside forces create
images and art for him. Robert coerces the narrator into sketching a cathedral,
unlocking the door behind which the narrator had been keeping his imagination.

This brings to light just how important and self-fulfilling that imagination had
once been to him and could be again: "So I began. First I drew a box that
looked like a house. It could the house I lived in. Then I put a roof on it. at
wither end of the roof, I drew spires. Crazy . . . I put in windows with arches.

I drew flying buttresses. I hung great doors. I couldn\'t stop." (189/190)

This sketch has initiated another awakening. That is, the narrator placed in
perspective what a steady diet of television and drinking had been holding him
back from; here he is reacquainted with his estranged imagination, not able to
stop drawing because with the sketch comes a flood of new spiritual
enlightenment. The narrator doesn\'t rest here for long, however, forced to
stretch his imagination even farther when the television goes off the air. Now
the narrator is forced to use his imagination in its purity. "\'Close you
eyes now,\' the blind man said to me. I did it. I closed them just like he said.
. . \'Keep them that way,\' he said. He said, \'Don\'t stop now. Draw.\'" (190)

The narrator completes his drawing and, without even opening his eyes, knows and
feels its beauty because he was compelled to draw by his own mind, unaided by
external imaginations. "My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I
knew that. But I didn\'t feel like I was inside anything." (190) The
narrator\'s awakening has given him