Narrator’s Initial Ulterior Motives and Raymond Carver’s use of First Person Point of View in “Cathedral”

Some readers would think that the narrator is prejudice to blind people. I will show that he is merely not educated on the matter and that he also has an ulterior motive to the way he is thinking during this story. Carver’s decision to use first person narration helps us understand the narrator’s inner feelings. He, in a sense, is talking to a good friend, which makes you really want to hear what he has to say. The narrator has two issues in which to deal with: one is his prejudice to blind people, the other is the poor communication in his marriage and his dealing with the fact that is wife tells this blind man more then she has ever told him.
The narrator begins by telling us this blind man is coming to visit his wife and that he is not too keen on the idea. The visitor is a man who has a close, emotional, relationship with the narrator’s wife and to top it all off he is blind. Through movies he has learned that blind people “moved slowly and never laughed” (par 1), this shows he is not educated on the issue. This is only one reason why he does not want the visitor.
There is a clearer picture of the narrator’s feelings after he learns the name of the blind man’s dead wife. He describes how she must have led an empty life because she could never hear her husband say how beautiful she was or see the expressions on her face. It is at this point that the narrator understands that his marriage is the same way. He describes that he and his wife never go to bed at the same time, suggesting that they do not have a close relationship.
The turning point in the story is when the narrator is looking for something interesting to watch on Television. In an attempt to fill the void with something that would not normally rely on verbal communication he finds a show dealing with cathedrals, this is what the title refers too. Robert informs the narrator that it is all right and that he needs to learn something every day.
The narrator try’s to describe the scene on the television but is unable to find the words to do so. Cathedrals mean nothing to him except that they are on late night television; he just does not care. Robert understands and suggests that the narrator draw one for him. After the narrator retrieves some paper and a pen they begin to draw. It is at this point that the narrator begins to see the light. He closes his eyes and continues to draw with Robert’s hand. Although he still does not know what it is like to be blind he understands more and appreciates their condition.
This story is not just about one man’s prejudice against blind people. It is about his lack of education on the subject and other circumstances, which lead the narrator to not want this blind person to visit. In the end he understands his feeling about his marriage and more importantly his prejudice is gone. He knows now that blind people are self-sufficient and can see what we see only in a different way.