Defamiliarization in Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”: How to See with Blind eyes? Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” explores the depth of human perception, while making the familiar world of a middle class man unfamiliar as he sought to see through the eyes of a blind man…
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Defamiliarization aims to show the common objects of daily life (e.g. cathedral) in a new and unfamiliar way. The aim of this paper is to show how Carver employed the technique of defamilarization in order to make readers see through the blindness. The narrator begins the story by honestly revealing his ignorance about blindness. In a way, he is himself blind in regard to the blindness. His limited knowledge came from the movies and he discloses his stereotypical view as follows: “My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs.” He also makes clear that he is not very open to new experiences by revealing his disturbance; he is not looking forward to meeting with a blind man. He also repeats in the story that he has never met a blind person before, so he had no preconceptions about blindness. Although, the narrator seems rather blunt in his attitudes, his ignorance also makes him open to understand blindness in a new way. Thus, although his views are stereotypical, he is not prejudiced and openly admits that he lacked any idea. However, the situation is simply uncommon for him. In fact, his disturbance may have been caused by the very unfamiliarity of the situation as new experiences could be scary for many people. Indeed, he also tells his wife that he is uncomfortable since he does not have any blind friend. Nevertheless, he paints a rather sarcastic picture of the blind man and his wife’s lives. He tries to imagine how their married life could be, and pities the guy for not being able to see his wife and pities his wife for his husband could not see her eyes, her make-up. Although his imagination is also quite blunt, still he makes the reader think of the daily life of a blind person in an unfamiliar way. The blind man, Robert, starts to shatter the narrator’s stereotypes as soon as they meet. Upon their meeting, the narrator confesses that he had “always thought dark glasses were a must for the blind”. So the narrator begins to see blind people in a new and unfamiliar way for him. He also mistakenly thought blind man did not smoke. As the story goes, although he still feels uncomfortable, he starts to see the blind man differently. However, he is reluctant to have any conversation with the guy till the middle of the story. After her wife slept, he focuses on TV in order to avoid conversation with Robert. However, silence becomes too disconcerting for Robert and he begins to talk about what’s on TV. He tells about skeletons and the cathedrals. Then something happens to him and for the first time the narrator asks a question to Robert : “Something has occurred to me. Do you have any idea what a cathedral is? What they look like, that is? Do you follow me? If somebody says cathedral to you, do you have any notion what they’re talking about? Do you the difference between that and a Baptist church, say?” Until that time, the narrator was very reluctant to know the blind man. At this point, for the first time, he takes an active interest in Robert and tries to understand him and if blind people could contemplate cathedrals. The narrator and Robert begin to connect as the narrator desperately sought to describe a cathedral to him without success: I turned to the blind man and said, “To begin with, they’
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As a result of this, the narrator finds great “insight”. As the story begins, the narrator can not see the man more than just a type of character of a blind man. The stereotypical links define the tag. However, at the end of the story, the narrator is compelled to reconsider his stance on blind people.
This is accomplished throughout the course of an evening, and culminates in the cynical man’s union with both the blind man and with God, through the process of drawing a cathedral together on a paper bag. The narrator begins by outlining his wife’s relationship to Robert, the blind man.
Our discussion mainly focuses on the narrator. Narrator’s intrigues not only reveal his flaws, but also his perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards people and human relationships. His perceptions cannot wholly be described as wrong but as detrimental to the general wellbeing of the human society.
Throughout the progress of the story, Carver has attempted to divulge the root of modern man’s problems such as loneliness and interpersonal communication failure through the symbolical use of blindness. In the story “Cathedral”, eyesight as well as blindness has played a significant role to work out the theme social alienation engendered by communication gap.
While young, he used to work with his father in sawmills in California. His mother worked as a waiter. Later on, Carver did other odd jobs since he married while 19 and had to support his family (Sklenicka 4-6; 21). In his studies, Carver concentrated on creative writing.
As he sat on the chair, he wondered what could have happened to his eyesight. However, he was not ready to raise eyebrows least he lost his job in the process. He however waited in anticipation to see how the event would unfold. Ali wondered what
Robert was invited by the narrator’s wife to pay them a visit after long period of communication such as through mailing of tapes. The wife recalls one time when Robert sensitively ran his hands all over her face, an issue which
Robert and narrator’s wife were in close contact with the help of exchanging audio tapes for ten years and finally, the old man was coming over in order to meet his pen pal and sharer of sorrow.
The narrator had an issue
The narrator talks about how he was invited by his colleague Bud for dinner during that night. Even though the narrator and Bud had never socialized outside work, he honors the invite and brings his wife Fran along. During
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