Human beings take many aspects of their daily lives for granted without even thinking about or giving a moment’s thought to it. The simple fact that we wake up every morning and open our eyes to another day is a blessing in itself. How is it determined who is worthy of seeing that next day and who is not? Are we better than the blind man because we are capable of seeing what is right in front of our faces? Or, does the blind man actually carry the advantage simply because he cannot see? Just because someone can physically visualize a sunset does not mean they are actually seeing the true beauty that lies within the array of colors set before them. This creates another question: Can the blind appreciate certain things on a different level than people who can see? One might argue that they do; in fact, they may also argue that the blind hold a different level of appreciation for even the simplest things.
In Cathedral, the writer begins the story with a strange encounter with a blind man, an encounter that could have happened to anyone. I, too, had a very strange encounter with a blind man that was very similar to this story. This encounter gave me a whole new perspective on “the simple things in life.” On July the fourth of this past year, I attended a concert at a lake. A man sitting a few chairs down from my husband and me was being extremely loud and annoying. I had noticed earlier that he was carrying a cane and had a lady assisting him to and from his chair. This indicated to me that he probably had a vision problem. Knowing this, I still had little sympathy for this man, who at the time I felt was ruining my night with his belligerent rants and his apparent level of intoxication. I could not “see” past the fact that he was drunk and getting on my nerves long enough to think about the fact that there might; in fact, be something more going on. The music eventually died down, and everyone put their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and at that moment, I noticed the blind man was sobbing. My mind started racing as to why this was upsetting, and all at once I was no longer mad at him. Seeing a grown man cry will humble anyone. I can absolutely say that at that moment, I was ashamed for being angry at this man. As soon as the crowd finished saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the firework show began. The poor, sobbing blind man mumbled to himself that he wished he could see the fireworks for once in his life and that they “sounded so pretty.” I had never thought about what life would be like to not ever be able to see a firework show. At that moment, I appreciated the firework show a little more than I had the year before and a lot more than I had ever in my life. I can only speculate, but this may have been the same string of emotions the husband felt towards Robert in Cathedral. These two stories may; in fact, be a lot more similar than originally thought.
At the beginning of Cathedral, the narrator’s wife informs her husband that on old friend named Robert is coming to visit. At this point in the story, the vision impairment of the friend and the narrator’s lack of compassion towards Robert’s situation is revealed. It is very apparent from the beginning that the narrator sees himself superior to Robert since he makes snide remarks and is snappy towards his wife for inviting Robert to visit. To make matters worse, the husband tells us that his wife met the blind man through an ad in a newspaper when Robert requested someone come to his house and read to him. After the wife’s employment with Robert, they maintained a friendship through audio tapes. Although they did not see one another on a regular basis, it could be argued that Robert actually had a deeper relationship with the narrator’s wife than the narrator, or at least he understood her better. Robert took the time to listen and understand where her husband really did not care. This reiterates the fact that Robert’s visual