Discussion for Carver’s “Cathedral”
In the 1980s, Raymond Carver was the most influential short story writer since Ernest Hemingway. Carver developed and popularized the writing technique called “minimalism.” Like Hemingway, Carver wrote in a very sparse, highly controlled manner, in which every detail is important. However, while Hemingway tried to evoke the subtext he omitted through a variety of symbols and images, Carver’s stories generally lack such subtext. Carver’s characters are very flat; their lives are small and boring. Any event that grants his characters a new experience or new insight is itself very small, and the effect of such events upon the characters is usually minimal. Two men drawing a cathedral after watching a documentary is a typical Carver narrative climax.
“Cathedral” is the most famous of Carver’s works, and there are many ways to interpret the story. For our purposes, we will highlight the postmodern aspects of the story. “Cathedral” demonstrates how the power of media influences the way we approach and interact with other people.
1. Even though the narrator is telling the story, how does the narrator reveal that he lacks the ability to communicate or the ability to receive communication? (two passages)
2. In what ways do the narrator’s wife and Robert use media to facilitate communication? (one passage) How does media negatively affect the narrator’s attitude toward Robert? (one passage)
(Hints: think about the references to tape recordings and to the movies the narrator has seen.)
3. Robert and the narrator finally seem “to connect” at the end of the story. How is this connection predicated on a change in media as a method of communication? Why does the narrator keep his eyes closed at the end of the story? Use two passages from the story to support your answer.
(Hint: media here would be the television show and the pen and paper shared by the narrator and Robert.)
Due on Apr. 22, 11:59 pm.
You will submit your answers as a Microsoft Word document to the Turnitin database, which is in the Assignments section of Blackboard.
Please use the Answer Sandwich method to answer each question. The passages you add to your answer should be around 2-4 sentences long. Please include a page reference. don’t forget you need 2 quotes for each question and the page numbers to support where your supporting quotes are from for your answer