Cathedral Essay Research Paper Jessica BoehmerCathedral People

Cathedral Essay, Research Paper

Jessica Boehmer


People in society are alienated in various ways. Alienations have a stereotype of being negative and offering nothing to the normal person. In the short story, Cathedral, a blind man, Robert, is the assumed alienated character in the opening of the story. The nameless protagonist is thought to be that of the normal crowd. As the story progresses it takes a surprising turn, and roles seem to switch. The characters can be said to be in a situation where the blind lead the blind.

The main character has never spent much time around blind people at the beginning of the story. He is not excited with the news that his wife s blind friend will be staying in his home for the next few days. This strange creature made the husband feel uncomfortable in what was supposed to be his comfort zone. The blind man was alienated from the whole world it seemed. He didn t know what anything looked like. The main character thinks about how it would be to never know what his wife looked like or to not have to put an effort in getting dressed up because your husband would never see anyway. Life as a blind man seemed to only have disadvantages. This was the man s opinion, and why would he be wrong? Society has stereotyped the blind as having a disability, not as having another way to experience the world.

The story progresses and the two men watch television together. This was an activity that the man seemed to find very unusual to do with a blind man. Interestingly, he found that the blind man paid close attention to the words of the narrator on TV, and had actually more insight than the man himself. The two men become more comfortable around each other as time passes. The narrator on television is speaking about cathedrals all over the world. The blind man asks the husband to describe a cathedral to him. This seems like an easy question to answer. Everyone knows what a cathedral is, but the question turns out to be one of the hardest questions the man has been asked in his life, as well as the most self informing.

The man is at a loss of words. He has no idea what to say to this man who has never seen a cathedral. The blind man thinks of an idea where he would be able to understand what a cathedral really looks like. He tells the man to get a piece of paper and a pencil. He proceeds to place his hand over the man s hand while instructing the man to close his eyes and draw a cathedral. Through this process, the man finds himself drawing a beautiful cathedral he has pictured in his head. He feels confident and in tune with himself. He becomes overwhelmed with emotion. The blind man asks him to open his eyes and look at the drawing as he finishes. Keeping his eyes shut the man responds that the cathedral is beautiful. He realizes that being blind is not a disadvantage, but can actually be an advantage because things are always beautiful. The blind man who had seemed to be the alienated in the beginning had actually taught the normal man how to become closer to himself and see the world and people in a completely different way.

In conclusion, society does alienate people. The normal reaction of a person who was to spend time with a blind man would probably be that of the main character in Cathedral. Society has taught that these people are at many disadvantages and cannot offer anything to the average person. This story has an ironic ending and disproves the stereotypical world we live in. The blind man actually acts as a catalyst between the main character and his inner-self.


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