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Analysis of the story, “Cathedral” Thesis

Analysisof the story, “Cathedral”


Theuse of first person narration by the Raymond Carver in the story,“Cathedral,” successfully presents his intentions incharacterization and themes. It is through the narrator that thestory finds its foundation meaning and plot. Additionally, simplecharacterization in the story is effective in addressing the mainthemes of the story. Moreover, the characterization preventsdistracting the reader and effectively captures him to the characterand experience of the story’s nameless narrator.

TopicSentence I: Narrating the story in first person is powerful andeffective in the presentation of the story’s plot, characterizationand themes.

Firstresponse to the topic sentence

Throughthe first person narration, the reader comprehends the elements ofthe main character as described by the author in order to understandthe lessons learnt.

Understandingthe points of view of a narrator is the main point of analysis thatRaymond Carver adopts in drawing lessons from the story (Howe, 1).From his own writing, he learns lessons by describing the point ofview of the author in relation to the context the story is based on.In addition to the context, the author draws lessons from his ownwriting by comparing the time he read the story and the current timehe is writing the response to the story (Anderson12).This way, Raymond makes sure that his response contains lessons hecan directly draw directly from both his writing and from the story.

Secondresponse to the topic sentence

Thestory presents the character of the narrator in a perspective thatthe reader has to understand especially when reflecting on hisconduct.

Inparticular, the author ensures that the story is presented with anarrator’s point of view which makes the reader identify with thecharacter of the narrator. To ensure the flow of the lessons, theauthor ensures that the reader becomes part of the story as thereader consistently tends to become the narrator. This explains whyat no one time in the story, the author does not disclose the name ofthe narrator. In addition, the author ensures that the narratoridentifies as a friend to Robert and a husband so as to createintimacy between the main characters and the reader.

Thirdresponse to the topic sentence

Inline with the thesis, the author achieves most of his literarytargets by leaving the narrator of the story, unnamed rather thanpresenting the name behind the personality of the narrator.

Thestory is narrated by the unnamed man who interacts with the wife asthe major character with others being supporting characters. First,the story presents only it is the characters that present the themesthat the author wants them drawn from the story. In addition, thesimple plotting suits the themes and the development of the story.This is because short stories tend to present messages and themesmore effectively if they are presented in the most simplistic way.Not only does the plotting simplicity make it easier for the readerto understand, it also makes it interesting for the readers to followthe plot.

TopicSentence II: the author has succeeded to appropriately usecharacterization to presenting the story.

Firstresponse to the topic sentence

Likein most of his stories, the characterization adopted by the author issimple and appropriate for the themes and plot that he intends topresent to the reader (Howe, 1).

Thefirst element of characterization reflects on the unnamed characterwho is the narrator, an element that makes the whole story come true.He describes his experience with all other characters and the readercomes to know all of them through the eye of the unnamed narrator.This knowledge is what is reflected in the mind of the reader whosignificantly takes the narrators point of view. The point of view ofthe narrator is what presents the lessons and traits that can bedrawn from the other characters by the reader (Anderson14).

Secondresponse to the topic sentence

Itis through Robert’s actions that the reader learns of the need toplay a role in the society despite their situation.

Robertis the blind person who is immediately introduced by the narrator asthe story begins as he visits the narrator (Carver 224). We learn ofhis friendly nature through his visit to the narrator after thepassing on of his wife. Robert is presented as an encouragingcharacter, not only from the perspective of a friend, but alsospiritual perspective as he advises the narrator The fact that Robertis blind effectively shows how each member of the society can takepart in understanding other people’s concerns and situationsthrough such visits.

Thirdresponse to the topic sentence

Theauthor successifully presents family lessons in another namelesscharacter in the personality of the narrator’s wife.

Sheis friendly as she keeps contact with Robert for ten years since theymet (Carver 223). Her character of marrying two men now and keeping adistance with another man, however, puts a question to her characterdespite being unnamed. It is through such instances like her tryingto kill herself that the reader is exposed to learn about the needfor a person to respect the institution of marriage and relationships(Carver 225). No matter how the reader may aloud narrator’s wifefor her friendship to Robert, it is worth questioning why hermarriage to a military officer ended. It is also questionable why sheinvites Robert to her home just after his wife had died and not othertime in their life time.

TopicSentence II: The author succeeds in introducing critical themes andlessons for a family and the society through the simplecharacterization rather than introducing themes directly.

Firstresponse to the topic sentence

Theauthor successfully presents his main message and theme of the storythe distinction between seeing and looking at.

Fromthe story, it is clear for a keen reader that the narrator representsa person who just states on issues and life from a bare perspectiveand not a more comprehensive angle. He is married to a wife he doesnot share with and does not even understand compared to how Robert.It is interesting to note that he does not seem to perceive his wifefrom a “seeing” angle. On the other hand, Robert is presented tobe representing the “seeing” aspect of life.

Secondresponse to the topic sentence

Abilityto see rather than the ability to look at is the most important for aperson.

Eventhough Robert is blind, he is able to understand the narrator’swife more than even the narrator, her husband. This point is mademore conscious of the fact that the Robert and the narrator’s wifehave been living away from each other for ten years since they met.Yet, they have been communicating and understanding each other’sissues. It is the exact opposite when comparing to the narratorbecause the only interaction we learn about the couple leaves thenarrator’s wife annoyed. Therefore, despite his physical sight, thenarrator cannot see, but just look at the issues. For Robert, hecannot look but he can see. This is one of the main elements of thestory and may be the reason why the author decided to give him a nameleaving others nameless. Such a literal aspect may also be translatedas the main character of the story as he carries the story’s mainmessage.

Thirdresponse to the topic sentence

Theauthor presents the story in a simple first person narrative andsucceeds in presenting the themes that he intended to illustrate tothe reader.

Atfirst, the author introduces family life right at the beginning ofthe story. The reader gets to know of the narrator’s marriage tothe wife as they welcome their visitors, Robert. This means that thefamily is taken as the reception point of visitors and accomplicessuch as friends as narrator’s wife invites Robert into her homewith the narrator (Carver 224). In addition, the author shows howfamily life and marriage encounters end through the story. The readerlearns of the end of military officer’s marriage to the narrator’swife. Moreover, the reader learns another reason why marriage ends,which is the ultimate separator of death as seen in Robert’s case.


Theauthor of the story “Cathedral” successfully delivers hismessage, themes and plot through a simple characterization that isliterary complete. This literary completeness presents a deliberatetheme by the author that physical elements may end up to beinsignificant in life if not backed up by a deeper understanding oflife. Through the three main characters, the author presents hismessage by naming Robert who carries his main message while leavingthe narrator and his wife as subjects of the thematic story. Thismakes the story not a strong reflection of the author’s intentionof a first person narration that not only makes the story meaningfulbut also complete.


Anderson,Robert. Elements of Literature:&nbsp&nbspSixthCourse Literature of BritainHolt,&nbspRinehartand


Carver,Raymond. Where I`m Calling From: New and Selected Stories RandomHouse: Vintage

(NewYork) 1989. Print

Howe,Irving. Storiesof Our Loneliness.Web, Accessed, February 14, 2014.