The Cathedral

“Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace”, (Dalai Lama XIV). This quote relates to the narrator in Raymond Carver’s short story, “The Cathedral”. In this story Bub’s ignorance is shown in various parts throughout the story. Towards the end of the story, Bub has an epiphany. This makes him realize how ignorant he’s been towards his wife as well as Robert, her childhood sweetheart and present day best friend. He enters from a world of insecurities to a world of peace.

The narrator’s jealousy and ignorance, is seen in many parts throughout the story. An example of Bub’s jealousy is when he says, “I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife’s sweet lips… but I heard nothing of the sort. More talk of Robert”, (Carver, Pg. 98). Not only does he show jealousy, Bub also shows ignorance when he stereotypes against Robert. As if stereotyping against Robert wasn’t enough, Bub goes on to stereotype against Robert’s late wife Beulah, as he sarcastically said, “Beulah! That’s a name for colored woman”, (Carver, Pg. 5). Beulah passed away in her lost battle to gland cancer. He also showed his ignorance when he quoted, “I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me”, (Carver, Pg. 94).

Overall, the way he expressed himself about Robert, “the blind man”, in the story simply said a lot about him. Bub comes out from a world of insecurities to a world of peace, the moment he lets himself be guided by Robert. They drew a cathedral; a symbol of faith, conversion, creativity, and strength. It was like nothing else in my life up to now”, (Carver, Pg. 103). The narrator faced his insecurities with Robert as well as his ability to interact with others. At first Bub could find no significance to it and found it hard to explain to Robert. It wasn’t until Robert told him to close his eyes and continue drawing, that made a light bulb in his head go on, “It’s really something”, (Carver, Pg. 103). Bub was blinded before he realized how ignorant he was in regards to his marriage as well as with Robert.

In conclusion we face ignorance on an everyday basis. It shows our lack of knowledge and sometimes reaches extreme measures. Ignorance occurs when people believe they know everything and act upon it, when this isn’t reality. This is a quality that the narrator possessed. Without knowing, his inability to see the positive in people almost caused him his marriage. He was so caught up with his insecurities that he almost oversaw his wife’s attempted suicide. It’s important to admit and overcome ignorance in order to find the inner peace within oneself.

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