Study Guide

Cathedral Language and Communication

By Raymond Carver

Language and Communication

[…] HELP WANTED—Reading to Blind Man, and a telephone number. (1.2)

The initial communication between Robert and the woman comes from a newspaper. There is nothing extraordinarily significant about this. We provide the quote to highlight the variety of mediums the story uses to explore the theme of communication.

The blind man made a tape. He sent her the tape. She made a tape. This went on for years. (1.4)

This is basically the woman and Robert's version of writing letters. It's a simple example of a solution to a communication problem. It suggests that the best solutions are often simple and straightforward.

Next to writing a poem every year, I think it was her chief means of recreation. (1.5)

In this sentence, the narrator communicates to the reader that he considers both his wife's poetry writing, and her correspondence with Robert as "recreation." Though we don't get her view, we can assume that these modes of communication are vital to her well being, rather than optional recreational activities.

"Maybe I could take him bowling," I said to my wife. (1.6)

The blind jokes never stop with this guy. His wife doesn't find them funny at all, and it's not likely he intended her too. This is his way of communicating his unease about Robert's visit. The narrator's method of expression leaves little room for friendly dialogue.

The blind man was also a ham radio operator. (1.45)

Sometimes, Robert seems like the king of communication. He's seems fascinated by all kinds of communication technology.

How could I even begin to describe it? (3.10)

The narrator is forced to confront the fact that he has things to learn about communicating. He's also learning that sometimes, words are insufficient. Because he isn't used to finding creative solutions to his communication problems, he just gives up. Luckily, he's receptive to Robert's plan.