The different stories sample essay
The protagonists from the different stories all seem to have their changes or their epiphanies occur quite quickly. These changes are not brought about by lengthy self-reflection or deep pondering, instead, they occur, seemingly, in a flash, as a series of events seem to suddenly open their eyes. For example, Robert, from “Cathedral”, goes through a long narration of explaining the hows and the whys of the main event in the story (the visit of his wife’s blind friend) before, finally, expressing his realization in just nine words at the very end of the story.
To be more specific with regard to Robert’s case, we see how, in much of the story, he talks not so much about himself as a person – a husband, a friend, etc – but as merely someone who is annoyed by an unwanted visitor. Robert talks much of his wife (with not a lot of affection, take note) and her friend, but he does not talk about himself, only reiterating again and again his annoyance and discomfort. This method of writing distances the readers from Robert and makes him an unsympathetic character who readers may not appreciate.
This technique actually strengthens his epiphany, and, in a way, makes it an epiphany of the readers as well. When Robert said “I didn’t feel like I was inside anything” (Carver), the reader, along with Robert, also realize that though Robert is the one telling the story, he seems not to be in the story as an important character himself. Robert was in his house, yes, but he was not “in” a relationship with his wife as seen by their strangely cold exchanges (for example the dialogue about Beulah); he was not “in” any friendly relationships [“You don’t have any friends,” she said. “Period.
” ( (Carver)]; and he had no connection with the blind man either. In “Good Country People”, the change in Hulga is abrupt as well. The cold, rude, disconnected and “intellectual” big blonde moves from self-confidence and self-possession into fear, anger, and panic as soon as she loses that which “she was as sensitive about (…) as a peacock about his tail” (O’Connor, Good Country People). Earlier in the story, Hulga is portrayed as a woman who is cold and out-of-touch with the world she lives in because she thinks that her education has separated and made her better than those in her vicinity.
She paints herself as someone who cannot be touched by any emotions because, in Hulga’s own words: “I don’t have illusions. I’m one of those people who see through to nothing” (O’Connor, Good Country People). And yet when she loses her artificial leg, suddenly, Hulga is no longer confident or fierce or composed; she is dependent and weak and afraid (“Her voice when she spoke had an almost pleading sound” (O’Connor, Good Country People)).
We see with Hulga how all her confidence and brusqueness was stored in that artificial leg and, therefore, with its sudden loss came her sudden change. Lastly, in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, the grandmother is the one whom we see changed. Indeed her change from being a rather selfish old lady (as in sneaking the Pitty Sing into the car and deciding not to own up to her realization of her mistake), is given a 360-degree turn in the face of her own mortality. Even her interaction with The Misfit shows her change.
In their first encounter she tries to flatter him , in order to save her life; she says to him “”I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people! ” (O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find). However, at the mention of talk and prayer, the grandmother suddenly becomes aware of something beyond her picture of him as just a killer and she tells him “”Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children! ” (O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find).
This part allows us to see how the grandmother has gone beyond her own self and has acknowledged the humanity of The Misfit, even though he is the eventual death of her.
Carver, Raymond. Cathedral. 30 July 2009
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