Two Levels Of Meaning In Carver’s Cathedral

1076 words - 4 pages


Two Levels of Meaning in Cathedral


The short story "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver develops characters with a dualistic depth. On the surface they have believable human attitudes and attributes, but there is also a level functioning that offers another interpretation. Carver is not only creating a realistic human picture, he uses the old story of the "deliverer" and reworks it into something unique, fresh. He takes the characters and binds them in the mind of his readers in a way that leads one to feel as though there is a deeper level to his message.


The narrator is quite obviously the character that Carver wants us to see as figuratively "blind." There is a stark contrast in the blind man and the husband from the beginning. The story starts out as the young husband anticipates the arrival of his wife's friend. The reader can sense his disgust and unwillingness to understand what it is like to be blind. He worries only for himself and how uncomfortable he will be in the situation. Mental emphasis is placed on the physical aspects of things and how the narrator cannot understand how the blind man could have a wife and never see her. "She could, if she wanted, wear green eye-shadow around one eye, a straight pin in her nostril, yellow slacks and purple shoes, no matter" (214).


This situation is beyond comprehension for him, how to be with someone, "without his having ever seen what the goddamned woman looked like" (213) Through his short, somewhat clipped description of his wife's former marriage and attempted suicide it is clear that he is not quite in tune with her emotions. The tone in which he describes her suffering leads us to believe that his connection to her memory is limited. Therefore can he really "see" his wife as well as the blind man can? His character development is negative, and it can be sensed that there is something lacking from his perception.


The wife serves as a catalyst to bring about change in this perception by welcoming her friend into their household. Carver foreshadows that this blind man, Robert, has the power of insight through the detail in which the tape recorded episodes are described. Before Robert is even introduced into the dialogue the reader's view of him is the opposite that of the narrator-- this is emphasized by their separate relation to the woman in the story. She becomes the object from which the two men illustrate their approaches to life. The blind man opens himself up to her words, thoughts, feelings and substance. The husband relies on the surface like visual clues from her and taking things at face value. The poem that she writes about her experience with Robert is dismissed by her husband, "I can remember I didn't think much of the poem" (210). When she shares the poem with its subject communication is opens up between them. However, her role is minor...

Find Another Essay On Two Levels of Meaning in Carver’s Cathedral

Description of Saint Paul's Cathedral in England

995 words - 4 pages I have had many experiences that changed my outlook towards life. One of them was when I went to London, England. It was called St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had never been to a “cathedral” before, and I didn’t especially care to go and look at one. But my coach made me, and when we got there I heard a voice in my head yelling, “You’re going to hate this!” Regardless I was there and without chance to leave, so I figured I might as well try to

Forty-Two and The Meaning of Life

1122 words - 5 pages especially among the best thinkers of our race who ponder the meaning of life and in turn its relation to everything around us. These people asked the hard questions like what is existence. Tom Stoppard most likely wrote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to get people thinking as well as he is one of the preeminent philosophers of our generation. Some of the main points Stoppard highlights in his play are the want for humanity to know its

The Complexity of Love in Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

726 words - 3 pages One of the easiest things for society to get wrapped up talking about is love. And it always has been. In Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” the four characters spend an entire afternoon discussing the simple word that has countless interpretations. Carver uses this story to convey how not everyone shares the same definition of love. He uses Mel, Terri, and Nick and Laura to show just a few of the ways love can

This is an analysis of the meaning and significance of the first two scaffold scenes in The Scarlet Letter

959 words - 4 pages town, including Chillingworth, will see the three of them together and judge whether or not he is the father of Pearl. Dimmesdale must now be nervous because I think Chillingworth is catching on to Dimmesdale's actions and that's why there is a bit of a rift between the two of them now. Another meaning of the Judgment Day is when people stand before God and their fate in the afterlife is decided. I think that Dimmesdale is talking about the three

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

Comparison of AMT Implementation Levels in 2010 with Levels in 2001

1255 words - 5 pages 4. Comparison of AMT Implementation Levels in 2010 with Levels in 2001 The main aggregate results of this paper are presented in Table 2a (Future plans of AMT Adoption and AMT Investment Plans in 2010), Table 2b (Current AMT Adoption Levels in 2010) and Table 3 (Current and Future AMT Adoption Levels with AMT Investment: 2010 and 2001 Comparison). 4.1 AMT Implementation Levels Table 2a and 2b indicate that the good pace of AMT adoption

Meaning of death in Hinduism

2053 words - 8 pages water, he can taste every part of it. Then Uddalaka compared two experiences to Brahman, saying that like salt, Brahman is present but unseen. 'This whole world has that as its soul; that is reality; that is Atman; that art thou, Svetaketu'(Chandogya Upanishad)(Zimmer 1951 p.360).6The Brahman is the Self and Self is the Brahman, that relationship was described by many metaphors in the Upanishads'. Here is one of them from Heinrich Zimmer's

Participating in Sports Helps to Reduce the Levels of Depression

1256 words - 5 pages athletes that are in season or preparing for their sports season. Then I will have them participate in their sport for and will randomly test them after two months have gone by from the initial testing than again at the end of the season and then once more two months after the end of their set season. This way I’ll be able to see if the participates levels fluctuate throughout the season or if they stay the same. Questions and Hypotheses With my

Investigating the Stress Levels of BSA Majors in DLSU

1113 words - 5 pages pressure, chronic pain and other serious diseases (Kubicek, 2011). With the said problems above, the researchers would like to know more about the topic and would be investigating the stress levels of BSA students in DLSU. With the researchers’ initial investigation, stress among accounting majors in DLSU are triggered by academic curriculum, the faculty and physical environment. Sources: 8 Tips for Choosing College Classes. (n.d.). 8

The Meaning of Love in Shakespeare's Othello

2299 words - 9 pages The Meaning of Love in Othello      The Bible says that 'all else is redundant without love', a most profound and relevant statement underlining the tragedy of Othello; in the absence of love, the Moor's fortunes plummet, so that he loses not only his respect and his posting but his life and that of his wife also. However, to truly understand the depth of this tragedy, it is essential to understand from where Othello, the protagonist, is

Meaning of Marriage in Different Cultures

2153 words - 9 pages In Islam, marriage is a contract between two people. It is required that a certain amount of money be relayed to the bride. This idea of dowry derives from the word in Arabic; Mahr. Furthermore, like both Christianity and Judaism, Islam is strict on the concept of chastity. It is the element of staying pure. Seeing as marriage in Islam is concealed with intercourse, which is evident from the root of the world in Arabic meaning marriage. The

Similar Essays

The Use Of Stylistic Devices In James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues And Raymond Carver’s Cathedral

1121 words - 5 pages James Baldwin’s ‘Sonny’s Blues’ and Raymond Carver’s ‘Cathedral’ are two stories which bring out several similarities concerning thematic issues and use of various stylistic devices. Studying the two stories closely enhances the reader to gain essential understanding on the issues being raised such as internal and external conflicts affecting the characters. Although the plots of the two stories are different, their development in terms of

Catcher In The Rye Essay: Levels Of Meaning

915 words - 4 pages Levels of Meaning in The Catcher in the Rye   Protected by a cocoon of naiveté, Holden Caulfield, the principal character in the novel, The Catcher in the Rye, therapeutically relates his lonely 24 hour stay in downtown New York city, experiencing the "phony" adult world while dealing with the death of his innocent younger brother.  Through this well-developed teenage character, JD Salinger, uses simple language and dialogue to

Levels Of Planning In Management Essay

1386 words - 6 pages Levels of PlanningMany times we think of planning as one function of management with no variety. Any time you are looking to the future you are just planning. Throughout this week's readings, the class has learned that there are actually four levels of planning. These levels include: strategic, tactical, operational, and contingency planning. Each level has a different purpose and impact on the planning process. In the following paragraphs, we

Analysis Of Murder In The Cathedral

2056 words - 8 pages Murder in the Cathedral is a two-part, verse drama, tragedy play written in 1935 by Thomas Stearns Eliot, also known by his pen name as T. S. Eliot. It joined many similar writings in the year of 1170 when Archbishop Thomas á Becket was assassinated in the cathedral at Canterbury by four knights ordered by King Henry II following Becket’s rejection of the King’s new marriage (Trudeau 2). Eliot’s most famous works including The Waste Land (1922