Since the beginning of humanity, humans have lived life through their own decisions and perspectives of the world. They have grown to perceive their surroundings vicariously through the eyes of those they trust and seek direction from. Though many people believe they are free of bias actions and opinions they must many times be shown through the actions of others the discrimination they posses. Carver and Heker explore the idea of enlightenment through experience by having those that are closest to Rosaura and the narrator of “Cathedral” be the ones leading them into a journey of self comprehension. Heker and Carver express that the only way to help someone you love is by letting them take the journey themselves.
The mind of a nine-year-old girl who has yet to fully understand her status in society cannot be blamed for feeling that she is friends with Luciana. Though Rosaura does not posses the same material objects Luciana does she still considers them to be friends because they spend nearly everyday together working on homework together. This bond that they created helps to solidify this idea of a real friendship. Rosaura believed she was invited to the party, not because she was being hired as help but instead because they were sincerely friends with one another. Though Rosaura may be naive from the misconceptions given to her by Luciana it does not excuse the bias opinions expressed by the narrator in “Cathedral.” The narrator was blinded by the intolerant views he held of the blind. He created a world in his mind much like Rosaura but instead of misinterpreting the attitudes of the society he lived in he instead fed off of the stereotypes that society had labeled those who were blind. His ignorance led him into becoming jealous of the relationship and connection that his wife and the blind man had. He placed a line between himself and the blind man just because of the handicap that the man possessed. “So when the time rolled around, my wife went to the depot to pick him up. With nothing to do but wait-sure, I blamed him for that”(Carver 117). Much like Luciana’s mother, his respect for the blind man was nonexistent due to the belief that he was somehow a greater human just because he had the power to see. Though he could see the different colors of the rainbow and the facial expressions of those around him he was spiritually blinded by his own emotions that were inside of him.
The only way in life to learn sometimes is to fall flat on your face, so you will never forget what the ground tastes like. Herminia did just that to Rosaura. She had to let her own child figure out that not everyone around her cared for her and had as much respect for her as she did. To work for the rich, your whole life cleaning up after their mess you can be expected to have a stigma towards those who feel they are more important then you. “I don’t like you going, it’s a rich people’s party”(Heker 89). Though she knows that Rosaura will most likely be hurt from going to this party she knows that it is necessary so that she will be wiser and understand that not everything in life is as it appears. Herminia shares this common thread of teaching a person to learn through their own actions with the wife of the man in “Cathedral.” Though she may not have realized it, by keeping in touch with the blind man she exposed the inner bias emotions that her husband had for those who were blind. He did not express this feeling aloud but in his mind making his fault noticeable helped him understand himself better when otherwise, it would have gone on without notice. By inviting the blind man to come and stay with them for a night she opened up the possibility for her husband and the man to come together and talk about their differences. She truly wanted him to experience what she had felt years earlier with the blind man to realize that the only person that was blind was him.
The hardest part in accepting a new thought about your surroundings is not the journey it takes to get there but the acceptance of the fact that you have been so blind to everything that is around you for so long. “Thank you for all your help, my pet”(Hecker 93). Everything for Rosaura finally came into perspective. The bringing of the juice from the kitchen to the dining room, the serving of the cake to all the other children at the party, and becoming the magicians assistant was all nothing more then a job that she was obligated to perform at the party. When Luciana’s mother took out those two bills to give to Rosaura, the world she had once lived in collapsed leaving her with only the reality that lay before her. For the first time she realized that she was not Luciana’s friend but only the daughter of a servant, which made her nothing more then that. This realization opened Rosauras eyes and mind to the evil of society unlike the narrator in “Cathedral” who opened up his mind to see the good that is all around him. The man in “Cathedral” opened up his mind instead of his eyes and perceived a world that he had never experienced before. Taking the mans hand, the blind man drew a picture of his life and put the soul back into his life. Experiencing this opened the eyes of the narrator giving him sight to the real, unbiased world we strive for everyday.
To see, does not mean you perceive. To perceive is to understand who you are, and what life truly is. The world we live in can only be interpreted through our own eyes and if we plan on taking something from it we must first learn from our actions and the actions of others. Those who believe they understand everything just from a glance, know nothing about themselves or the people they are surrounded by. Heker and Carver expressed the idea of personnal change by creating a realistic short story to show that no one is perfect and the only path to becoming enlightened is experiencing the world around you for yourself. “Take a look. What do you think?” “My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything.” Its really something, I said”(Carver 124).
Heker, Liliana. “The Stolen Party.” Legacies. Eds. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 89-93.
Carver, Raymond. “Cathedral.” Legacies. Eds. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 115-129.