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Literary Analysis of a short story - Book Report/Review Example

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Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral" (1983) demonstrates how Carver shows the possibility of revelation in everyday situations. His stories generally concern those at the bottom of the social rung: the poor, the addicted, and the isolated. In this story, the central character is isolated, coarse and even bigoted, as Carver shows by revealing his racism "Her name was Beulah!…
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Literary Analysis of a short story
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Download file to see previous pages An initial reading of the text reveals that the plot does not include drama, or extraordinary events; the story might be described as one in which "not much occurs", and the site of the narration is one small house. The narrative is in the first person, meaning that we also see the thoughts of one of the characters. As the plot focuses upon emotional tension and revelation, this first-person narrative is essential in helping the reader to understand the epiphany which is the focus of the story. The plot involves the arrival of a friend of the narrator's wife; he is a stranger to the narrator himself. The friend is blind, and the first part of the story describes the previous relationship of the wife and the blind man; the second part describes the narrator's conversation with the blind man, which results in an 'epiphany' for the narrator. Carver is not concerned with writing a plot in which something physically demanding happens to the characters which forces them to change: instead, he intends to describe an emotional change which is as powerful as any dramatic narration. He does this through the use of narrative devices; intricate symbolism, and the plot devices of jealousy, the arrival of a strange person, and the tensions within the narrator's marriage, shown here - "My wife finally took her eyes off the blind man and looked at me. I had the feeling she didn't like what she saw. I shrugged." (17). The slow and common-place narration of the story means that the reader can connect with the characters - there is nothing else within the narration to take the reader's attention away from them.
Carver's story contains only three characters: the Narrator, the wife, and the blind man, Robert. The narrator comes appears to be a rather objectionable man, isolated and friendless, desperately in need of the epiphany of communication. Carver shows him as bigoted, jealous, rather ignorant, and coarse, for example when he appears to say 'Grace' at the meal, he turns it into a joke "'Now let us pray'...'Pray the phone won't ring and the food doesn't get cold". He also appears to be unnamed in the story (the blind man calls him 'bub', but this seems to be a friendly term, rather than the narrator's name by his reaction, "'Right.' I said. Bub!" (20)). In addition, although the histories of both the wife and the blind man are revealed in the story, the narrator himself has none. The character is one that it is difficult to like, and yet his honest narration makes him appealing and interesting to the reader; his epiphany is more powerful as he appears so objectionable at the beginning. The narrator is the 'protagonist', the person who is the centre of the narrative, much like the traditional hero of storytelling. The wife (also nameless), while being in some ways as objectionable as the narrator, for instance in the way in which she keeps writing poems (2). She is demanding: "if you love me...you can do this for me" (6), and also seems at times to actively dislike her husband (for instance in the sentence used in the second paragraph). The blind friend is the only character to be named in the story, as Robert (his wife is named, but she does not appear as an actual character in the story). He is perhaps the most ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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