Essay on Life As I Knew It

Submitted By teddynash
Words: 1408
Pages: 6

Most authors write fiction to explore themselves and their current societies. They usually utilize their experience and knowledge of life to write powerful stories along with vivid characters. Hence, readers can comprehend the meanings of the fiction as well as the characters’ roles through writers’ biographical information. The opposite is true as well, that authors who fully capture characters’ particularities help readers gain a more insightful understanding of their own lives and characteristics. Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Raymond Carver “Cathedral” both seek to make sense of human differences, and each does it in its own way and with differing results. They are all told in first person and climax with little epiphanies. They both deal explicitly with conflict, and struggle between forces. In “Everyday Use,” both Maggie and Dee (or Wangero) share some similarities with Walker’s personal life. . Although these two characters have distinctly different attitudes toward the quilts, the great symbol in the story, they set off Walker’s notion of family heritage. Indeed, Maggie and Dee represent three sides of Walker’s characteristics: these are self-consciousness, determination, and appreciation. “Cathedral” is an excellent short story that illustrates how good story-telling is derived from delineating the process of personal reform. Although several characters in the story undergo inner-self change, the story primarily focuses on the narrator and the way Robert changes the narrator’s perspective about the world and himself.
Blindness can manifest itself in many ways. Arguably the most detrimental form of this condition may be the figurative blindness of one’s own situations and ignorance towards the feelings of others. In Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral," the narrator's emotional and psychological blindness is immediately apparent. Not only is the unnamed narrator in this story ignorant of the need for understanding, he also doesn’t appear happy and doesn’t seem overly interested in making changes either. A blind man, a friend of his wife’s whom he has never met, is coming to stay the night. The blind man’s wife just passed away and the narrators’ wife figures he could use some company. He, the narrator, clearly views the blind man as lower than himself. This is evidenced in the first line of the story: “This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night.” (Carver, 209). The blind man is not given a name, he is given an attribute. Substitute “black man” or “Jewish man” or “gay man”, and the point remains the same. The man was just an unnamed blind man. He is referred to as “the blind man” until right before he makes a “physical” appearance in the story, about four pages in. We find out then that his name is Robert and, from that point forward he’s referred to as such.
However even after he’s been given the dignity of a name, our narrator is still ironically blinded by stereotypes (likely from television, since our narrator spends a good deal of time watching television). Robert has a beard, Robert smokes, Robert does not carry a cane, Robert does not wear sunglasses. These are characteristics that our narrator did not suspect, and they begin to break down the generalizations he has grown accustomed to believing. Without really making note of it, the narrator is starting to understand the differences while also discovering the ways that he is similar to Robert.
The narrator’s wife, whom invited Robert in the first place, spends most of the story asleep, forcing the two men to interact. As the night goes on and they spend more and more time together, the walls of difference are broken down, and similarities begin to surface. Although Robert is obviously still blind, the narrator begins to see him as an equal; as more than a handicap. This is brought even more to light as the story concludes and our narrator closes his eyes, becoming blind, in order to show Robert what a cathedral…