Ray Carver s character Bub, in Cathedral, seems irritated and sometimes hostile. His lack of self-endurance is portrayed in his initial actions. The vehemence of his prejudice is surprising. His initial anger and anxiety seem way out of proportion to the situation, as if the blind man were threatening to him somehow. Ray Carver shows his negative character in the introduction, and proceeds to change his character in the closing.
In the early part of the story the narrator (which is the main character), is telling his audience the story in which his wife had met this blind man. The character shows how threatened he is by this blind man in the very first paragraph were he says and his being blind bothers me (par 1) and A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to (par 1). He further demonstrates how threatened he feels while telling the story in which the blind man touched his wife s face and how she had felt so strongly about it that she had written a poem about it. As he continues to tell the story of his wife and the blind man he seems to be getting more and more irritated, as if this blind man was able to communicate with his wife much better than he was. His weaknesses continue to surface throughout the story. Before the blind man arrives to the house the narrator tells us how his wife is irritated with his behavior. Making comments such as Maybe I could take him bowling . It is comments like this that really build up the character to be self-doubting. His wife continues her story of the blind mans dead wife and the narrator has to have a drink. It is at this point in the story that the character shows that he cannot handle the fact that his wife talks so pationilty about this blind man. The narrator continues to drink throughout the rest of the story.
The blind man does arrive and the narrator continues his lack of confidence. His wife continues to put all her attention into the blind man. It was quite noticeable that the narrators wife repeated the blind mans name several times. The narrator made it a point to let his audience know this. In fact not once was the narrators name mentioned in the story. The blind man referred him to as Bub . The narrator did not feel comfortable with the blind man in his house so he thought it best to offer the blind man a drink so as to have a good reason to continue to drink. I think the narrator needed to get the blind man a drink so the narrator could feel more comfortable in his world.
It seems that the narrator describes his wife as being embarrassed by him. The parts of the story were his wife asking several times if the blind man would like to go to bed, and if he was tired as if to get him away from the company of the narrator. It seems as though she really did not want her husband to be alone with the blind man, as the narrator describes it.
Gradually as the evening wears on, the narrator begins to relax with the old man. He challenges the blind man in a few ways one of which he turns on the TV. I think it is at that point in which the narrator actually becomes fond of the blind man. Of course both of them had plenty of alcohol and marijuana in their systems. From what the narrator portrays, he needed the alcohol and marijuana to be able to communicate with the blind man. None of this seems to have been reality to the narrator and he needed to keep it that way. The narrator in trying to describe a documentary that was on the TV was not able to communicate his visual experience to the old man. It seems as though he did not have the proper vocabulary to do so. This again shows his lack of communication. The narrator continues to feel very uncomfortable and continues to drink and smoke.
As the narrator continues to watch the TV, the old man continues to listen. A documentary about cathedrals is showing and the blind man wants the narrator to describe a cathedral to him. The narrator in describing cathedrals to the blind man becomes very frustrated with his inability to a good job. The blind man then asks the narrator if he is a religious man. The narrator replies with I guess I don t believe in it. In anything. Sometimes it s hard. You know what I mean? (Par 102). It is at that point that the narrators bitterness towards life is realized. To himself. He has basically been surviving through his life without living. His existence is merely just basic and he doesn t like it. When the blind man asked him about his religion, I think all that came to him. Here is a man who is blind and seems to have more insight than a seeing man. How ironic. The narrator proceeds to talk about the cathedrals saying they don t mean anything to him. The blind replies with an understanding remark.
It is at that point the story and the narrators character changes. The blind man asks the narrator to draw a cathedral. With the blind mans hand over the top of the narrators hand he proceeds to draw a cathedral. As the blind man says, “Terrific. You’re doing fine. Never thought anything like this could happen in your lifetime?” The narrator closes his eyes and draws blind, saying, “So we kept on with it. His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was like nothing in my life up to now.” The ending leaves us pondering about how much more the narrator is learning about him and about human communication than the blind man is learning about cathedrals.
Thus the narrators character whose life is just a mere existence becomes enlighten by one of the very things he was threatened by, a blind man. The narrator becomes touched at the end as he experiences something he never thought possible. The narrator leaves us with the feeling that maybe he will be a changed person after this night. Maybe.