Be ready to answer the following questions (if the number is followed by W in bold, it means a written answer is required)
1) W - Is the narrator a sympathetic protagonist? Does our opinion of him change as the story progresses? Does the narrator develop or change or "grow" over the course of the evening?
2) What are the primary emotions displayed by the narrator throughout, and how can we understand them in terms of the life he leads? What are some adjectives you would use to characterize him? What role does alcohol play in his life?
3) W - What is the narrator’s attitude toward his wife? Describe the narrator’s marriage. What kind of marriage do they have, and what evidence do you find to support your conclusion? Is the narrator’s jealousy of Robert irrational?
4) What is it about Robert that unsettles the narrator? What does Robert do to put the narrator at ease?
5) W - How does Robert shatter the narrator’s preconceived notions of blind people? How do his appearance and bearing resist every stereotypical image the narrator has about blind people, and why is this so upsetting?
6) W - What does the narrator learn from his encounter with Robert? Is the ending convincing? Do you believe that there will be a significant change in his outlook from this point on?
7) W - Contrast the author’s tone and the narrator’s mood at the opening of the story with the tone and mood at the end. How does the change in style reflect the change that has occurred in the narrator?
8) W - How or why is the cathedral an important image or symbol in the story? What is the significance of Carver’s choice of a cathedral as catalyst for the narrator’s learning experience? What added dimension does this symbol bring to our understanding of the story? Can you tie it to any previous detail?
9) W - Describe Carver’s style.
10) What is important about the two flashbacks (the ones about the narrator's wife's past and Robert's past)?
11) Why the repeated references to Robert lifting his beard?
12) How does alcohol and marijuana play a role in the story?
13) Why is it important that the setting is the narrator’s house?
14) What is important about the references to the narrator's wife's poems and tapes?
Ideas about Themes:
15) What does Robert “see” over the course of the evening?
16) In what ways is this story about “seeing” and/or learning?
17) W - Discuss “Cathedral” as a story about “the blind leading the blind.”
18) W - In what ways is this story about communication and connectedness? (Think about the poems, the tapes, the ham radio, etc.)
19) For Carver, salvation lies in human contact and connection. Comment critically.
20) W - Create a conversation between the narrator and his wife after Robert’s departure.