At first glance, one might assume Raymond Carver’s "Cathedral" illustrates the awakening of an insensitive and insulated husband to the world of a blind man. However, this literal awakening does not account for the fact that the husband awakens also to a world of religious insight, of which he has also been blind. The title and story structure are the first indicators of the importance of the religious thesis. It is also revealed when one examines the language and actions of the characters in the story. Finally, Carver’s previous and subsequent writings give an overall background for the argument that "Cathedral" has a significant religious import.
The structural and technical features of the story point towards a religious
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When Robert urges the narrator to describe the appearance of a cathedral the narrator fumbles over his inarticulateness. He explains that in "those olden days, when they built cathedrals, men wanted to be close to God" (1061). He goes on to tell Robert that "in those olden days, God was an important part of everyone’s life" (1061). These two statements, coupled with the descriptions of the cathedrals themselves as "built of stone" (1061), suggest that the narrator is not only out of touch with what a cathedral looks like, but he believes religion and God to be unimportant to the people of today. He flatly states that he doesn’t "believe in [religion]. In anything" (1061).
The narrator appears as a hollow character, empty and void of belief, especially religious belief. The epiphany occurs only after the narrator experiences the cathedral through the blind man’s eyes. Therefore, one must recognize that the crass character of the narrator breaks down only after experiencing a cathedral (hence, religion) for himself. After completing this drawing, and seeing it with his eyes closed, the narrator keeps them closed and seems to rise above himself, stating that he doesn’t "feel like [he is] inside of anything" (1062). This remark, along with his refusal to open his eyes after completing the drawing, suggests some sort of conversion, after which the convert refuses his old way of thinking. Therefore, not only does the