The narrator in Raymond Carver's "Cathedral" is not a particular sensitive man. I might describe him as being self-centered, superficial, and egotistical. And while his actions certainly speaks to these points, it is his understanding of the people and the relationships presented to him in the story which show most clearly his tragic flaw. While Robert is physically blind, it is the narrator who cannot clearly see the world around him. In the eyes of the narrator, Robert's blindness is his defining characteristic. As we move from the beginning to the end of the story, you will see a change in the narrator's insight on life.
The opening line of "Cathedral" reads, "This blind man, an old friend of my wife's, he was on his way to spend the night"(1055). Clearly the narrator cannot see past Robert's disability; he dismisses him in the same way a white racist might dismiss a black person. Another example that shows that the husband is "blind" comes in the beginning of the story before Robert arrives. When the husband and his wife talk about Robert, the husband usually refers to him as "the blind man"(1055), and he never uses Robert's name or assigns any human attributes to him. The narrator is quite jealous of the relationship between his wife and Robert. Jealousy can be showed by the narrator's statement, " They"d become good friends, my wife and the blind man. .
How do I know these things? She told me"(1056). He was quite jealous of the tapes and poems used for communication by his wife and Robert.
When Robert makes it to his destination, the narrator does not know how to communicate with him because he is so caught up with his disability of being blind. The narrator described the blind man as, " old, heavy-set, balding man with stooped shoulders"(1058). Since he has never met a blind man, Robert's appearance surprised him. Also Robert didn"t wear dark glasses, but the narrator always thought the blind needed glasses for eye support.