Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Raymond Carver's Cathedral. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Cathedral: Plot Summary
Cathedral: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Cathedral: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Raymond Carver
Historical Context of Cathedral
Other Books Related to Cathedral
- Full Title: Cathedral
- When Written: Port Angeles, Washington
- Where Written: 1982
- When Published: 1983
- Literary Period: Minimalism
- Genre: Fiction (Short Story)
- Setting: A couple’s home in Connecticut
- Climax: After watching a television program on the cathedrals of Europe, the narrator undertakes the transformative activity of drawing a cathedral so that he can show Robert the blind man what cathedrals are like.
- Antagonist: At first, it seems like Robert the blind man is the antagonist, but by the end of the story it is clear that the nameless narrator is his own greatest antagonist.
- Point of View: First-person
Extra Credit for Cathedral
In His Own Voice. Raymond Carver was one of the many minimalist writers to work with Gordon Lish, a well-respected editor. It has now become apparent that Lish had liberal tendencies when it came to editing Carver’s work, and Carver’s first two collections seem to have been changed a great deal by Lish. “Cathedral,” included in a collection by the same name, is seen as the first Carver collection free from Lish’s heavy hand.
A Financial Windfall. Just prior to writing “Cathedral” and the other stories that comprised his 1983 collection, Carver received a Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This award allotted him $35,000 a year for five years and prohibited him from earning more than $1,000 at any other work than writing. This enabled Carver to quit his teaching job at Syracuse and move to Port Angeles, commencing the most prolific period of writing in Carver’s life.