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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Cathedral - 1209 words
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The protagonist in "Cathedral," Bub, is a man who has several defining characteristics. Bub is insecure, insensitive, and ignorant. This is clearly shown in Bub's relationships with his wife and Robert. Bub's insecurities are blatantly shown when he comments on his wife's ex-husband: Her officer-why should be have a name? He was her childhood sweetheart, and what more does he want?Bub resents the ex-husband for being his wife's first love. He would have liked to have had that role so he negatively addresses his wife's past relationships.
Bub's unconfident mannerisms further transpire when he comments on his wife's relationship with Robert. He states:In time she put it all on tape and sent the tape to the blind man. Over the years she put all kinds of stuff on tapes and sent the tapes off lickety-split. Next to writing a poem every year, I think it was her chief recreation. On the tape, she told the blind man she'd decided to live away from her officer for a time
On another tape she told him about her divorce. She and I began going out, and of course she told her blind man about it. She told him everything, or so it seemed to me.This intense friendship between his wife and Robert further exacerbated his insecurities. Robert and his wife have an intimate relationship that Bub has never, and probably will never, have with his wife. He goes on to say:My wife finally took her eyes off the blind man and looked at me.
I had the feelings she didn't like what she saw. I shrugged.This relationship offers Bub only one consolation, he believes that because he can see that has an advantage. He constantly refers to Robert as "the blind man." He never uses Robert's name or assigns any human attributes to him. This insecurity is partially responsible for his wife's continued involvement with Robert. Also responsible for his wife's close relationship with Robert is Bub's inability to feel.
He exhibits a great lack of emotional depth. Bub comments on Robert's marriage:They'd married, lived and worked together, slept together-had sex, sure- and then the blind man had to bury her. All this without having never seen what the goddamned woman looked like. He has no feelings of sympathy for the loss of Robert's wife. Bub goes on to comment about his wife telling him exactly happened to Robert's wife.
He says, "My wife filled me in with more detail than I cared to know" (582). He cannot comprehend the type of love that existed between Robert and Robert's wife. How could he? He does not have that in his own marriage. Bub states without any emotion the circumstances which led up to her attempted suicide. He also comments on his wife's poetry saying that he did not particularly care for it.
He is not adept at feeling anything. He is emotionally shut off. This is why Bub's wife shares her poetry and feelings with Robert. Bub is also very ignorant. He comments about the blind man's upcoming visit, "My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies blind moved slowly and never laughed.
Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs" (958). He makes many other comments upon Robert's arrival that illustrate his lack of knowledge. He asks Robert "What side of the train did you sit on?" and asks his wife if he should take Robert bowling. He has absolutely no idea how someone who cannot see could actually function normally. The initial conflict is that Robert is coming to Bub's house.
Robert comments on this:I wasn't enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me [..] a blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to (958).Bub is intimidated by Robert's relationship with his wife and, needless to say, is not thrilled by meeting the man that has a much more intimate relationship with his wife. Moreover, he is not comfortable with the fact that Robert is blind. Bub has many misconceptions about the blind which make him even more uncomfortable.
The turning point in the story begins when Bub realizes that Robert lives a fairly normal life. Bub comments about Robert's eating dinner: I watched in astonishment as he used his fork on the meat. He'd cut two pieces of meat, fork the meat into his mouth and then go all out for the scalloped potatoes, the beans next, and then he'd tear off a hunk of buttered bread and eat that.Bub was beginning to realize the capabilities of the blind man. This is the rising action of the story. The rising action leads us to the climax.
During the documentary on cathedrals, the two men smoked and drank. Bub comments on the idea of a blind man smoking:I remember having read somewhere that the blind didn't smoke because, as speculation had it, they couldn't see the smoke they exhaled. I thought I knew that much and that much only about blind people. But this blind man smoked his cigarette down to the nubbin and then lit another one. This blind man filled his ashtray and my wife emptied (962-3).This passage is particularly important because it shows that the only thing that Bub thought for sure he knew about blind people turned out to be a misconception.
The climax follows this. During the documentary it occurs to Bub that Robert may not have any idea what a cathedral actually looks like. He attempts to explain but after several unsuccessful attempts he states, "I can't tell you what a cathedral looks like. It just isn't in me to do it. I can't do any more than I've done." (968).
This leads the two men to get out the pen and paper. This is our climax, the two men sitting on the floor drawing a cathedral together. The husband, eyes closed, draws the cathedral. The husband comments on this experience, "It was like nothing else in my life up to now" (969). During the climax Bub has an emotional awakening.
Bub says, "I didn't fell like anything" (969). Bub's comment represents his freedom from his sheltered and close-minded life. The overall themes of the story were alienation and loneliness. The main characters experience, and have experienced alienation and loneliness. Bub is discontented in his work, envious of his wife, and isolated from other human beings and also from himself. Because of this, Bub resents his wife's connections with other people. Keening this in mind, Bub makes no effort to correct this problem.
When Robert arrives he makes to attempt to engage him in conversation. He prefers to remain cut off and observe. As the conversation breaks, Bub turns on the television, which is not only extremely impolite, but one that offers proof of Bub's detachment with his wife and her friend. The story demonstrates an interesting sort of irony. The disability that Bub condemned and presupposed was in fact a handicap that he had himself. He was emotionally blind.
Robert assisted Bub in overcoming those traits that were keeping him from experiencing the most wonderful things in life. This freed Bub from his insecurities, ignorance, and insensitivities. He was then capable of truly seeing.
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