The narrator of Cathedral is many things; Jealous, sarcastic, insensitive, inconsiderate, and overall Just a bad person, he is also, surprisingly, a sympathetic character. While he substrate many flaws and emotions that we do not readily show ourselves, this does not strike the fact that we can sympathies and relate to the narrator. In fact, it is the fact that he shows all of these flaws that make him a sympathetic character. The reason being is that he shows the emotions and flaws that humans, as a whole, want to show in any given situation, but choose not to out of impassion.
Even though we do not react the same way the narrator would, it does not change the fact that often times we do feel like reacting in a similar manner that he would. Raymond Carver, in his short story Cathedral manages to create a character, the narrator, who is the personification of true human nature. As often as humans try to hold themselves up as a morally upright species, it cannot be denied that often times, as we react in a manner deemed appropriate in our society today, inside our heads there we want to reply in a less nice, less appropriate, and more selfish manner.
For example, an exchange could go along like this; “Take out the trash. ” You reply with, “Okay. ” But inside, your thoughts may very well go along the lines of, “Why can you not take the trash out yourself? I do not see you working nine hours a day. ” As we grow older and learn what is acceptable in society, we tend to not take heed or even notice as those kinds of thoughts flash across our minds, but that does not change the fact that we still feel that way on some level.
The narrator seems to be a character who generally reacts based on these feelings. This is evident in the narrator’s reaction, through Carvers writing, when he is informed that the blind man was coming to stay with them. Rather than reacting with a false guise of comfort, he instead replies sarcastically saying, “Maybe I could take him bowling,” (3) knowing full man the blind man couldn’t even see the pins, ball, or lane he would be playing in.
This sarcasm extends from discomfort, and the narrator’s unwillingness to want to deal with the blind man’s presence. The narrator had never even met the man once in his life, and yet here this blind man is coming to eve in his house, eat his food, and sleep in his bed. He does not pretend to be okay with this simply because his wife knew the blind man for so many years. Branching off from how long the wife and the blind man knew each other, there comes another emotion that we more readily relate to; Jealousy.
Although the narrator does not blatantly tell the wife or blind man that he is Jealous, he does subtle things that show he is. He flips his wife’s robe close when it slips open; while his wife and the blind man are talking, he turns on and turns up the television. His Houghton show how he feels about them conversing, when he thinks “l 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. (7) His jealousy extends to even his wife’s previous relationship, with the man who was her childhood sweetheart. The narrator says, “Her officer–why should he have a name? He was the childhood sweetheart, and what more does he want? –” (2) As much as we ante to malt It, no matter won we Ana up Walt, our tongs oaten lead to ten people our significant other had been with in the past; they also lead to thoughts of how well we stacked up against them. In the end, what makes him so sympathetic, is how he warms up to the blind man in the end.
No matter how bad our thoughts are towards people, unless they have severely wronged us, often times we give them chances to be a part of our lives. We give people a chance to add onto and help us experience new things in life. In the end, after a bit of cannabis and a bout of drinking, the narrator begins to drop his barriers of insupportableness with the blind man. The fact that his wife is no longer n the picture accelerates the breaking down of these barriers, because now the narrator is forced to communicate with the blind man more frequently.
As the night draws on, the narrator and the blind man are watching a television documentary about cathedrals, and the bailsman is having trouble picturing what a cathedral looks like, much to the dismay of the narrator who is describing the building to him. The blind man suddenly requested that the narrator draw the cathedral for him. He did so, with the blind man’s hand on his own, and the end result was mind blowing for the narrator. With the way he ended the story, the narrator’s opinion and relationship with the blind man has changed, expectantly for the better.
It could very well be argued that the narrator isn’t a sympathetic character at all. The flaws he shows are also accompanied by racism, sneakiness toward his wife, stubbornness, and the bad habits of weed smoking and drinking. Most people do not smoke marijuana and have a low opinion of people who drink on the regular. This makes the narrator difficult to sympathize with. Though, could it not also be a result of the state of his marriage and the environment he’s in? The narrator does not like his Job at all, and yet feels like there is nothing else he can do but keep working there because he feels that there are no other options.
This feeling of being stuck in a dead end would make anyone angry or upset with the world. The narrator is definitely not happy with his marriage, and because of this tunes her out and drinks. He does not even go to bed with her at the same time often, because he doesn’t want to be there with her. He would rather stay downstairs and smoke marijuana while watching documentaries on cathedrals. Avoiding something that does not make you happy is meeting that we can all relate to easily.
While it is easy to Just cast the narrator off as an unsympathetic character, the narrator does show many characteristics that we can identify with. While they may not be the ideal characteristics that we would like to be able to relate to, they are still ones that we feel often enough to say they’re relatable. Often times we do wish that we could be more assertive and say how we really feel about something, no matter how society would look down on us for saying such things, and the fact that the narrator does Just that makes him a sympathetic character.