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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Flannery O' Connor

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1. At the end of Cathedral, the narrator has an epiphany. How would you describe it? How does it relate to the theme of the story?


People have stereotypical images, either good or bad, about certain people with different characteristics, people with different cultures, race, or religion, or people with disabilities. The same is true with Bub, the narrator of Cathedral by Raymond Carver. The entire story of Cathedral is symbolic based on the fact that Bub gradually changes his stubborn and jealous manners towards the blind man.


Bub initially has a strong aversion to his wifes blind friend, Robert, who comes over to his house to spend the night. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. However, at the end of the story his attitude toward the blind man is completely inverted. Bub comes to an understanding of the blind man. As the title indicates, it seems that Bubs revelation is more or less sudden when the Cathedral appears on TV and Bub starts drawing a picture of it for Robert. The change is, however, more gradual. The Cathedral is just one of the tiny steps that Bub takes to be opened up and accept the blind man as a friend.


Bub has a great aversion to the blind friend of his wife before he even knows Robert. It is because he is obviously jealous of Robert, with whom she feels intimate enough to share her life stories and poetry. As her husband, his dignity is somewhat hurt by the presence of the blind man and he feels insecure about it. During the conversation between Bub and his wife, his hostility toward the blind man becomes apparent. Maybe, I could take him bowling. Bub pretends to be unaware of the mans blindness, but he apparently means that he wants to take him bowling, which is something that a blind person is not able to do well at. He despises Robert for having a colored woman as his wife. Her name was Beulah. Beulah! Thats a name for a colored woman. Bub denies everything his wife says about Robert trying to feel better about himself.


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But Before Bub meets the actual blind person; his attitude toward blind people is full of wicked prejudice. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. However, his attitude subtly changes when he first meets Robert. A beard on a blind man! Too much, I say. He is startled because a full beard is far from the stereotype Bub has had about blind people from the movies. Then, he examines Roberts attire, which he describes as Spiffy. He implies that there is something funny about this blind man caring about his outfit, but admits that Robert is different. At this point, Bub still holds hostility toward Robert, but his stereotypes about blind people are completely washed away.


At the dinner table, too, Bubs attitude toward Robert slightly changes. He is amazed by how Robert locates his food on the plate. I watched with admiration as he used his knife and fork on the meat. His comments about the blind man have been dominantly negative. For the first time, he watches the blind man with admiration. Yet he is still unwilling to be friendly to him because he feels left out in the conversation taking place in his house with his wife and her friend. They talked of things that had happened to them. Them! His dominant feeling is still jealousy, and he is not yet opened up enough to fully accept the blind man.


As Bub spends more time with Robert, he gradually becomes aware of Roberts charm, his sincerity, and honesty. Unlike the beginning of the story at which he criticizes everything Robert does or says, he only remarks what Robert does and says and no longer provides his opinions about it. Not yet, he said, No, Ill stay up with you bub, If thats all right. Ill stay up until youre ready to turn in. We havent had a chance to talk.


It is obvious Roberts frankness is well reflected on these statements. Robert doesnt feel insecure about his blindness and never hesitates to show his positive attitude about his life to learn more about Bub, and even something out of news programs. Moreover it gets harder for Bub to deny the fact that Robert is indeed a fascinating person as his wife has insisted.


While the television is on, Bub begins to feel comfortable being with Robert. Then I said, Im glad for the company. And I guess I was. Bub genuinely views Robert as a company. But when the Cathedral appears on TV, the final change occurs to Bub. As he draws a cathedral for Robert, he finds himself drawn into the magic of Robert. I couldnt stop. The TV station went off the air. The man who has cared nothing but weed, alcohol, and TV first participates in communicating with the blind man. Bub comes to an understanding of Robert by putting himself into the state of blindness. It was like nothing else in my life up to now. He enjoys this new experience and says, Its really something.


The last sentence really stands out compared to what Bub says about the blind man at the beginning. His change is certainly remarkable, yet it doesnt occur all of the sudden. His attitude changes little by little as he gets to know more about this blind friend of his wife, Robert. Cathedral is not what directly brings about the change, but stands as the last step for Robert’s refined revelation. http//homepage.nifty.com/olympia_wa/eng1b6.htm


. Discuss the relevance of the following quotation to understanding Flannery O’ Connor’s fiction


“I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace… This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it one which is implicit in the Christian view of the world… I have found, in short, from reading my own writing, that my subject is the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil.”





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