Sample Essay On Cathedral And The Gospel OF Luke
Conflicts between individuals because of blindness or ignorance are some of the most common in literature; this is especially true in Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral” and in the Biblical Gospel of Luke. In “Cathedral,” the narrator, a average joe, feels considerable tension when his wife brings her acquaintance, a blind man named Robert, over for dinner. In this simple scene alone, there are a tremendous number of conflicts – first, the narrator is resentful of and suspicious of Robert’s relationship with his wife, as he fears that his wife loves Robert. However, he is also uncomfortable with Robert’s blindness, a condition that leaves him curiously able to see the world in a different light.
Robert’s blindness is a literal personification of the narrator’s metaphorical blindness – an inability to see the true beauty of the world. The narrator admits, “I guess I’m agnostic or something,” after a contest in which Robert draws a more beautiful cathedral (which they see on TV) than the narrator, who can actually see it. This gesture demonstrates the significance of this conflict between ignorance and enlightenment; Robert is something of a blind prophet, showing the narrator the error of his ways simply through good, principled living and introspection. Here, the possibility of change for the narrator allows him to come to a greater understanding with Robert, resolving the conflict and allowing the narrator to open himself up to the possibilities of faith, spirituality and a more holistic view of life.
Meanwhile, in the Gospel of Luke, a similar network of resentment and conflict can be found, particularly between two sons who vie for the favor of their father. Here, the conflict between patient, hard work and instant gratification is explored, as the younger son wants his inheritance right away: “Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.” The son is torn between his love for his father and his desire to be seen as a man who has his accounts in order. After suffering out in the world, however, he sees the error of his ways, asks God for forgiveness and returns to his father. His older brother carries the more complicated conflict; while he should be happy his younger brother is back, his loyalty and hard work is not as richly rewarded as his brother’s dereliction of his family. Still, the father shows him the error of his thinking, as he notes that he should simply be glad that his family has returned: “This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!” Both brothers are proven wrong at some point in the story, demonstrating that they should settle their differences and just rejoice in their continued existence as a family.
Uncovering the importance of these conflicts and symbols is important in storytelling, as the overall meanings of these works extend beyond their immediate contexts and latch onto something more universal. The act of interpretation and recognition of conflict in literature is extremely vital to understanding literature and how it applies to our daily lives; by doing this, the work takes on a greater importance and affects our own behavior and perspectives on the world. In “Cathedral,” the narrator learns how even the blind can ‘see’ the nature of the world better than he can because of his ignorance. In the Gospel of Luke, the importance of love and family is emphasized over direct reward for work; the older son learns that we should be more concerned with the well being of those we love than with keeping account of instances of respect, inheritance and property. By reading these stories, these lessons also get imparted onto the reader themselves, allowing them to reflect, as the narrator in “Cathedral” did, on the way they interact with the world and the various prejudices and resentments they carry toward others.