Cathedral is a short story written by Raymond Carver published in his collection of the same name. The narrator of this story is an unnamed man whose wife has just left him for another man named Dick. In order to get over the heartbreak, he resorts to drinking with his friend Jerry. They get into a heated conversation about life and death while they spend the evening at a local bar frequented by locals of their small town of Spokane, Washington, which apparently tends to be infested with "derelicts.'' Meanwhile, a bum enters the bar and starts drinking alongside them without even acknowledging anybody else's presence there except for that of his fellow drinker. At one point, when Jerry leaves for the restroom, the bum starts talking to him, who even though he tries hard to ignore what the man has to say without hurting his feelings, but later on, gives up and tells the bum that he is tired of hearing about life and death. Later on, when Jerry returns back to the bar, he finds out that the bum is dead.
Raymond Carver's 'Cathedral' embodies a particular meaning in the protagonist's mind, which eventually becomes an obsession towards the end of the story. Throughout this short story, the narrator appears as a rude person since he never addresses any other person by their name except for "Jerry", who is only mentioned twice, the first being at first sight of him and the second being when he leaves him alone with the bum. The fact that he doesn't address anybody by their names shows how indifferent and alienated he is from everybody around him and how self-centred he has become after his wife left him.
It focuses on human emotions like love, betrayal, and loneliness, which each of us experiences at some time or other. It tells us about our essential needs: friendship and affection, without which we feel incomplete and insecure, even when we are supposedly better off than others who don't have these basic needs fulfilled.
One thing that makes this story unique is the fact that there are three individuals who interact with each other in this story, but none of them ever engages in any conversation with each other. Two men are drinking in the bar, one of them is obsessive about his wife, and the other is obsessed about life and death, whereas the third person, who enters the scene uninvited, talks to no one but himself.
"Cathedral" also shows us how our lives turn out to be miserable when we look for love in all the wrong places; it tries to tell us that sometimes people just cannot understand what you want from them even if you try to convey your feelings over and over again because they don't possess that level of empathy or maybe their concept of unconditional love doesn't work out for you we believe this story has mainly been written to make readers sympathize with those women who are left alone by their husband because of being divorced.
Carver's 'Cathedral' stands out as a masterfully written short story with an underlying tone of acceptance and resignation about life. The language used in the story is simple enough for readers to understand it; at the same time, words have been carefully selected so that they bring out the essence of what the author wants to convey to his audience through this story. The fact that no actual conversation takes place between any two characters makes it even more interesting since nobody knows who was supposed to carry on the conversation with whom, until when Jerry leaves and talks to himself or when he is dead.
"Cathedral" is one such short story that simply lures its reader, leaving them wanting to know more about the main character's life which is so full of enigma. It forces its reader, especially students studying short stories in college, to dig deep into its meaning and come out with their own interpretation, which helps them learn more about human psychology and how different people think in various ways.
Since it does not provide any solid conclusion or solution to the problems faced by the protagonist; therefore after finishing this story, you will definitely feel like reading it all over again because there are many things left unanswered throughout this story, giving readers a chance to make their own assumptions regarding what they believe happened at the end of 'Cathedral'.
Carver's story is beautiful because of the language he uses and the message that it conveys; with his simple words, he teaches us how to be content with our life and not look for happiness outside by changing the people around us. The fact that this story was written in 1983 shows how much human nature remains unchanged over time. In a nutshell, it's really difficult to get bored reading this short story even if you read it multiple times.
When someone reads a short story written by an author from another country, it becomes difficult to understand every line because there are chances of mistaking some expressions or lines which might sound familiar but have different meanings when used in a particular context. People assume that these types of stories can be read-only by professional literature scholars who understand the language and culture of that country, but there is no such need. If you read a story written by an author from another country, do not analyze every line; instead, make notes of those lines which you feel might need some clarification. This will help you avoid making any mistakes while reading that short story.
Carver often uses the first-person point of view in this story and throughout his stories as well to bring out the feelings and thoughts of his protagonist towards other characters. He has also taken into consideration many different factors like age, gender, race etc., before choosing the protagonist's name since he anticipates how readers will perceive them based on their names which is why he sometimes changes the names as per your preference.
To sum up, it is easy to see that Carver has made an amazing story by just using simple language and words that anybody can easily understand because the goal of literature is to convey a message effectively so that everyone can comprehend it easily. Every word used in this short story makes sense when put together with other words, so if you want to get maximum pleasure out of reading fiction short stories then try to read 'Cathedral' written by Raymond Carver. This story will help you appreciate his literary talents as well as give you another reason to be proud of being a reader whose hobby is reading stories from around the world.
Carver is a gifted and talented writer, and reading his words will give you the opportunity to be in awe of how he captured every emotion. He did this with only simple language that anyone could understand. His stories are always enigmatic and captivating, but his mastery of the English language really shines through in this particular work. The sentences flow together beautifully, and each word seems to fit with all the others seamlessly.
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