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 naiveté 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...