chapter  8
Discourse style makes viewpoint
The example of Carver’s narrator in ‘Cathedral’
ByMichael Toolan
Pages 12

The narrator of ‘Cathedral’ (1981/1989) is a typical Carver character, lonely and alienated, self-centred and callous. He spends the evening drinking with his wife and her blind friend Robert, and when his wife falls asleep, the narrator and the blind man watch (the narrator watches, the blind man listens to) a programme on television about cathedrals. As the narrator feels unable to describe to Robert what a cathedral is like, he draws one for Robert with the latter holding his hand in order to share the experience. This unexpected moment of physical touch and communication leads the narrator to a final, though inarticulated, insight into the meaning of life.