the rich brother and cathedral analysis

Tibias Wolf, tells a story of two brothers with very different lifestyles and perspectives on the world. The main character Pete is a very successful real estate agent in Santa Cruz who tends to get caught up in the materialistic things in life. He always wants his image to appear superior to others, from the house, to the car, to the clothes and he seems to look down upon on those who are not as successful as him.

His brother Donald is the exact opposite of Pete and is seen as a user in his eyes. Donald has no money to his name and drifts from place to place. “The Cathedral” by Raymond Carver tells the story of the interactions between a blind man and a married couple. He has known the woman for quite some time but has never met the husband until he travels to their home. The focus of the story is on the husband who acts as the narrator and is very arrogant, rude and closed-minded. He is very Judgmental and lacks the insight to understand people’s thoughts and feelings.

In both these short stories it is seen that Pete and the narrator are similar in hat they are both caught up in narrow-minded thinking, however, towards the end of the stories it is shown that the narrator under goes a transformation and Pete does not. The narrator and Pete both view the world in outward appearance and conformity to cultural norms. Pete places a high emphasis on success, which to him is strictly defined by the amount of money a person has and where they stand on the social ladder.

Pet’s ultimate ambition is to fit in following the example of his parents, “They managed to be decent people without making fools of themselves” (Wolff 654). His view of a decent person was someone who was well off financially as evidence by his statement to Donald “Grow up… Get a Mercedes” (Wolff 656). He views Donald as a failure because he lives a different lifestyle and is not nearly as “successful,” using Pet’s definition of the word. Similarly, the husband is very Judgmental and seems to have tunnel vision based on his pre-conceived assumptions.

These assumptions are mainly stereotypical based on outward appearance and in the case of the blind man, physical disability. These stereotypes are shown in his Judgments towards the blind Nan’s marital relationship. He automatically assumes that the blind man’s wife was miserable saying, “It was beyond my understanding… And then I found myself thinking what a pitiful life this woman must have led. Imagine a woman who could never see herself as she was seen in the eyes of her loved one” (Carver 108). He automatically assumes because the blind man can’t see, that he and his wife would have a poor relationship.

He believes that blindness prevents the man from being capable of understanding people and his surrounding environment. Pet’s narrow- ended and Judgmental views of others can continuously be seen throughout the short story. After Pete picked Donald up at a service station, Donald asks Pete if he ever dreams about him and Pete tells him that he only dreams about “Sex and Money. Mostly Money. A nightmare is when I dream I don’t have any’ (Wolff 657). This is evidence of how Pete really only cares about the materialistic things in life and himself. While stopping for dinner, Donald meets a man by the name of Webster.

Webster asks Donald for a ride to Santa Cruz which is where they were going so he ells him it’s no problem. Pete, who was unaware of this is very against it when he finds out. He tells the man “Not that much room” (Wolff 659) but, in reality they had plenty of room. When Pete lies to the man and tells him there is no room this Just further demonstrates his selfishness towards others. They end up giving the man a ride because Donald kept on insisting. Eventually Pete asks Donald to drive because he is tired and he falls asleep. When Pete wakes up he notices that Webster is gone and Donald explains he dropped him off.

Pete notices that the gas tank is very low so e tells Donald to stop at a gas station. He tells Donald to pay with the one hundred dollars that he gave him earlier. Donald explains to Pete that he cannot pay for it because he gave the money to Webster and this does not sit well with Pete. Donald tells Pete he will pay him back and he responds by saying “Like hell you will. A hundred dollars!… Just because you think I hurt some goofball’s feelings. Jesus, Donald” (Wolff 663). This statement by Pete Just goes to the show that while Donald cares about others Pete is so caught up in caring about himself that he doesn’t care bout anyone else.

He calls Webster a goofball and has no remorse for treating him poorly. When Donald realizes how angry Pete is he offers to get out of the car. Pete lets him out and leaves Donald, his own brother, in the middle of nowhere. The narrator describes Pete while driving at the end of the story. The narrator says “He smiled to himself like a man at liberty to enjoy music, a man who has finished his work and settled his debts, done all things meet and due” (Wolff 665) This Just goes to show how Pete has no remorse for stranding his brother.

He has no shame for his actions and continues to be selfish. The narrator’s Judgmental views, similar to Pet’s, can also be seen numerous times throughout “The Cathedral”. When describing the blind man’s relationship and interactions with his wife he says “All this without seeing what the god-damned woman looked like” Carver 108). This shows the narrator’s arrogance. He assumes that because the man couldn’t see what his wife looked like they couldn’t have a normal relationship. When speaking with the blind man the narrator continues to Judge him based strictly off of appearance.

He says hat he had wished the man had dark glasses on because his eyes were “creepy’. Later when the Narrators wife went up to bed he was left alone with the blind man. He said “l wished she’d come back downstairs. I didn’t want to be left alone with a blind man” (Carver 1 11). The blind man is like any other person in this world except for the fact that he can’t see. This goes to show that the narrator doesn’t see people for who they actually are, he is Judging him strictly off of a physical disability. The narrator and the blind man eventually decide to smoke a Joint and watch T.

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