The Character Of The Husband In Raymond Carver's Story Cathedral

1146 words - 5 pages

The Character of the Husband in Raymond Carver's Story "Cathedral"

In Raymond Carver's "Cathedral," the husband's view of blind men is changed when he encounters his wife's long time friend, Robert. His narrow minded views and prejudice thoughts of one stereotype are altered by a single experience he has with Robert. The husband is changed when he thinks he personally sees the blind man's world. Somehow, the blind man breaks through all of the husband's jealousy, incompetence for discernment, and prejudgments in a single moment of understanding.

From the beginning of his tale, the husband is quite bland on the subject of love. This is present when he tells the part about his wife's first husband, even going as far as to say the man doesn't deserve to be named because "he was the childhood sweetheart, and what more does he want" (348). When he tells of Beulah, Robert's wife, and her tragic death, he shows no compassion in mocking her for marrying a blind man. He even asks if the woman was a "Negro" because of her name. His materialistic views shine through when he feels actually pity for her because she could "never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loved one" (349). His lack of compassion for the tale of the blind man's marriage tells the reader that maybe the husband himself doesn't believe in love. When he refers to his wife's first husband as "this man who'd first enjoyed her favors" and "shrugs" when he thinks his wife is disappointed in his actions, it informs the reader he may look at relationships, even his own, as more of a business deal than a devotion of love (348, 350). His wry humor is major indication of his sarcastic character. He even makes a crack to his wife about the blind man before meeting him saying, "Maybe I could take him bowling" (349).

Whether he is disgusted or jealous of the blind man touching his wife's face, even before he himself knew her, isn't clear to the reader. His jealousy of Robert does become clear when the after dinner conversation never turns to the husband:

For the most part, I just listened. . . they talked of things that had happened to them—to them!—these past ten years. I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife's sweet lips: "And then my dear husband came into my life" —something like that. But I heard nothing of the sort. More talk of Robert. (351-352)

When the conversation has turned to him, he realizes how more bland the topic is and turns the television on for entertainment, even though he knows he is being rude.

The husband first begins to open up to Robert when he watches with "admiration" as the blind man eats his food. He begins to see Robert as an independent man that has learned to live life despite his disability. There is a moment of connection when they all three finally begin the meal and he describes them as if they were all the same, eating the same way, intently and "seriously" (351). The husband asks to share a joint...

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