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The Blind Husband in Carver’s Cathedral

The “Blind” Husband in Carver’s Cathedral

The short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver is about a woman who has a blind friend who comes to visit her and her husband. Although the husband has, technically, normal vision he is in the beginning of this story the one who is “blind.” Through the husband’s words and actions when he is dealing with Robert, the blind man, we can see that the husband does not “see” or understand what Robert’s blindness means or how it changes or does not change him as a human being. At first Robert makes the husband very uncomfortable, for the husband does not know what to say or do around the blind visitor. As the story progresses, we can see a change in the husband; he seems to be able to see Robert as a person and not just as a blind man.

One example that shows the husband is “blind” comes in the beginning of the story, before Robert arrives. When the husband and wife talk about Robert, the husband usually refers to him as “this blind man” (1052), and he never uses Robert’s name or assigns any human attributes to him. This shows that the husband does not really see Robert as a person, but just as a blind man who is different because he has a handicap.

When Robert arrives at the couple’s house, the husband does not know what to say to him. The husband asks stupid questions about the view from the train: “Which side of the train did you sit on?” (1055). The husband knows that Robert cannot see the view, but he asks him these questions anyway. Also, the husband thinks to himself, “I didn’t know what else to say” (1055) which is a clear indication that he does not know how to relate to Robert. Both of these quotations show that the husband does not know what to talk about with Robert because he only sees Robert’s handicap, instead of seeing him as a complete human being who has emotions, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.

Not only does the husband not know how to communicate with Robert, he does not how to act around him either. A good example of this, shown after dinner, is when all three of them go into the living room. This is how the husband portrays what happens when they first enter the room: “Robert and my wife sat on the sofa.

Three Immigrant Types in Mukherjee’s Jasmine

Three Immigrant Types in Mukherjee’s Jasmine

The complex journey of immigration and the hardships immigrants undergo are common themes in Bharati Mukherjee’s writings. The author, an immigrant herself, tries to show the darker side of immigration, especially for Hindu women, that is not often portrayed in other immigrant narratives. In the novel, Jasmine Mukhedee uses three types of immigrants to show how different the hardships of adhering to life in an adopted country can be. Her main immigrant characters fall mainly into three categories: the refugee, the hyphenated immigrant, and the chameleon. The refugee immigrant type is seen in Jasmine’s father, Pitaji and in the Proffessodi and his wife, Nirmala. The character Du is representative of the hyphenated immigrant, and the chameleon immigrant type is that of the main character of the novel, Jasmine. By discussing the various types of immigrants the author has portrayed in the novel and the importance of names for each type, with an emphasis on the main character, Jasmine, the immigrant experience will be seen not as a generic journey that is similar for all people, but is instead a profoundly personal affair that is affected by that person’s past life experiences and beliefs. The first type of immigrant, the refugee, is characterized by a longing for the homeland. Mukherjee explains the difference between an immigrant writer and an immigrant/refugee writer by showing the contrasts between herself and another Indian writer, V.S. Naipaul:

Naipaul, who was born in Trinidad because his relatives left India involuntarily to settle there, has different attitudes about himself. He writes about living in perpetual exile and about the impossibility of ever having a home…

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…elves constantly reinventing themselves in order to adapt to’ their changing world. By showing how immigrants survive in unique ways, Mukherjee is able to throw of the concept of the generic immigrant and instead shows immigrants for what they truly are: individual people who cope the best they can with the new environment thrust upon them.

Works Cited

Brewster, Anne. “A Critique of Bharati Mukherjee’s Neo-nationalism” Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies. 25 July!999

Carb, Alison. “An Interview With Bharati Mukherjee” The Massachusetts Review v.29 (Winter 1988/1989): 645-654.

Mukherjee, Bharati. Jasmine. New York: Fawceft Crest, 1989.

Vignisson, Runar. “Bharati Mukherjee: An Interview.” Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Lanouaae Studies. 25 July!999.

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