In the story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver a variety of elements of short fiction
contribute to theme. Raymond Carver uses a great variety of elements to render a theme
that all members of society are accepted.
The point-of-view in this story puts the narrator as a participant and the
protagonist. The narrator also has limited omniscience which keeps the reader from
seeing the blind mans feelings. Early on, the narrator is rude and inconsiderate. He
often makes rude remarks to the blind man such as “what side of the train did you sit
on?” and comments on color TV. Carver uses the narrators prejudices as a reflection of
the many prejudices inherent on todays society.
The author sympathizes with the wife. Readers can sense the feeling of the wife
being embarrassed. She covers up for the narrators mistakes. The authors use of tone
makes the readers dislike the narrator; therefore, the readers desire a change in him.
The symbols in the story help to identify theme. The cathedral, the most obvious
symbol, shows unity and common belief. A cathedral is a place where everyone is equal
and accepted. The touching of the face is also a symbol. It shows the trust built between
the wife and the blind man.
The irony in this story is that it takes a blind man to make a seeing man see.
Irony is when reality is not what it appears to be. Readers think that the blind man is at a
disadvantage based on the prejudices known by everyone. In reality, the blind man can
see things that seeing people are unable to see.
The theme that all of these elements contribute to is that all people are equal, and
the things you lack do not matter because they are made up for in other ways.