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Analysis

Literary Devices in Cathedral

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

"Cathedral" is extremely light on symbols, imagery, and allegory. So, don't worry if you're having some trouble coming up with anything. In a postmodern work, the surface is often the most importan...

Setting

First published in 1981, "Cathedral" is set in the days when the switch from black and white to color television was in its early stages, and when cassette tapes were a cutting edge technology. The...

Narrator Point of View

Point of view isn't complicated in "Cathedral." The narrator is describing an important experience in his life. He's leading us through the changes he undergoes over the course of a single evening....

Genre

When the story is over, we might feel like something mystical has happened. Indeed, it has, but all within the confines of what reads a lot like reality. "Cathedral" builds around a familiar scenar...

Tone

In "Cathedral" it feels like the narrator is just talking to us, trying to keep us amused, telling us what happened in clear and precise terms. It's conspiratorial because he's telling us how he re...

Writing Style

The two things your most likely to hear about Carver's writing style are that it's very much like Ernest Hemingway's, and that it's an example of minimalism (Hemingway being a master of minimalism)...

What's Up With the Title?

Cathedrals don't make an appearance in this story until the third section, and then it's fairly obvious why the story is called "Cathedral." Cathedrals are the subject of the television documentary...

What's Up With the Ending?

If you like simple endings that give you something to think about long after the story is over, you'll appreciate the ending of "Cathedral." It's this simple: Robert and the narrator finish drawing...

Plot Analysis

A blind man is coming to spend the night at the narrator's house.The narrator has issues with blind people. Not that he's ever met a blind person. But, he has seen them in the movies. In any case,...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Rebirth

The narrator grumps aroundThis is what Booker says: in this stage, the hero (the person who gets to be reborn at the end) is "frozen" in an "isolated, imprisoned state." He's fallen under the "spel...

Three Act Plot Analysis

The curtains open, and we find the narrator worrying about the fact that Robert, his wife's blind friend, is coming to spend the night. In the process, he reveals his assumptions about blind people...

Trivia

Wondering about Carver's favorite authors? Here's a quote to fill you in: "There are many. I just finished Edna O'Brien's selected stories, A Fanatic Heart. She's wonderful. And so is Tobias Wolff,...

Steaminess Rating

Nobody has sex in "Cathedral." But there is an erotic subtext. It's pretty obvious that the narrator thinks that his wife let Robert do something sexual to her when she "let him run his hands over...
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