In Raymond Carver’s Cathedral, the word sight took on another dimension. Sight was just confined to being one of the senses, and that is it. Robert, the blind man, could see clearly more than any other man in the sense that he possessed a real heart and did not let his deficiency hurdle the things in life which are wonderful. His lack of sight did not hinder him from knowing and perceiving love, as exemplified by his endearment and later marriage to his assistant Beulah, whom he never saw nor pictured in his mind; he had come to love his wife without him even picturing how she looked like when she smiled, when she cried, or when she frowned. It was Robert’s blindness that triggered him to appreciate the littlest things in life even more.Comparatively speaking, the blind prophet Tiresias in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex was also blind, and yet he held the most significant role in Oedipus’ life, he foresaw the future of Oedipus and was there to witness the fulfillment of the prophecy; the great irony was that a man like Tiresias who was deprived of sight actually saw what was to become of Oedipus, he was blind literally, but his mind saw all things. And so was Oedipus himself, who turned blind because of his own deed as he blinded himself as a sort of punishment to his marrying his mother; Oedipus lived a fast life, for his sense of sight did not serve its purpose, the reason being was that he ran away from the man who sheltered him when he was left for dead by his parents.
Another proof of his figurative blindness was his recklessness; he had unknowingly killed his father because of his pride, and he was made to pay the penalty later in his life.The blindness in Robert was of course, apparent to the woman who cared for him in Seattle, who is the wife of the narrator. In a peculiar sense, she may possess the sense of sight but is blind, figuratively speaking. Yes she did care for the blind old man who gave her a job, but she did not, by all means see that her husband is there, waiting to be recognized. She had spent several years pondering about what had happened to the blind man she had worked for and in the process of doing so, had forgotten that she had been neglecting her husband all along; the same can be said when the blind man paid a visit, it is as though her husband did not exist.
The puzzling part where the husband and Robert were drawing a cathedral said it all. What Robert lacked in sight, his imagination was almost too good he did not need the restoration of his eyes, too good that the woman’s husband who was not blind was also amazed, for Robert surpassed his own imagination to successfully draw a cathedral.Tiresias’ qualities were almost that of Robert’s, as his physical blindness revealed the mental blindness of Oedipus. Being a fortune teller, he need not see the physical in order to predict things, as he was able to see into the future destruction of Oedipus.
He even told Oedipus that it was his eyesight that prevented him from seeing the embedded truths in his life, “And since you have reproached me with my blindness, I say – you have your sight, and do not see what evils are about you, nor with whom, nor in what home you are dwelling.” (Sophocles 15). Tiresias is a blind man who can see, Oedipus can see, but not where his life was going. It was as if he was blind all his life, and Tiresias not affected by blindness.Blindness in Cathedral was not only of the loss of sight, but the utter loss of imagination, and zest for life. The narrator’s blindness was his inability to be initially insensitive to the situation of Robert and his wife’s utmost compassion and understanding for him. But eventually, the husband’s figurative blindness is eradicated when he was enlightened by the views of Robert, his fondness for life and appreciativeness, “I was in my house.
I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything” (Carver 590). His blindness for life was totally erased within hours in the company of a blind man.