Cathedral By Raymond Carver Essay Papers

Cathedral By Raymond Carver Essay Papers-58
The mysterious, inescapable, paradoxical power of alcohol pervades Raymond Carver’s fiction, shaping and complicating his characters’ identities, relationships, and lives.In “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” alcohol serves as a social lubricant that diminishes inhibitions, which allows hidden tensions and emotions to emerge. After undergoing such trauma, she must cling to this view in order to cope.A self-avowed “fan of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories” (“Fires” 19), Carver also saturates his stories with alcohol; his characters often consume inordinate amounts of alcohol and generally struggle with emotional expression.

The mysterious, inescapable, paradoxical power of alcohol pervades Raymond Carver’s fiction, shaping and complicating his characters’ identities, relationships, and lives.

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As a result of his drunkenness, we are exposed to a tension within him as he struggles with his idealized and realistic concepts of love, as well as with the terror of impermanence and death.

Mel acknowledges his own confusion about love as he introduces the other story-within-the-story, but has great difficulty conveying the emotional meaning of this story because alcohol progressively blurs his speech and thought processes. Alcohol has interfered with his thought process so significantly that he cannot articulate the emotional significance of his story; he can only ask, “Do you see what I’m saying? He cannot explain that this is an example of the more permanent love he yearns for but fears he may never experience.

I knew better, but after a month of being with Wes in Chef’s house, I put my wedding ring back on” (28). P.’s marriage to the love of his life, his happy home and children, and the job of his dreams.

Their bliss, threatened by the menace of Wes’s thin grasp on sobriety, is disrupted when Chef informs Wes that they must move out of the house so that his daughter can move in. Most threatening of all, neither man can understand why he threw it all away.

Mel, a cardiologist, recounts an old couple’s struggle to survive after a drunk driver runs into their camper. The couple’s deep spiritual love eludes his interpretive powers, and he destroys its purity with his profane language.

He cannot finish his story because alcohol has robbed him of coherence. I’m telling you, the man’s heart was breaking because he couldn’t turn his goddamn head and see his goddamn wife . This may appear to be emotional superficiality, but it is not; Mel is grappling with very deep emotions, both released and muddled by alcohol.In the same essay, Carver notes, “I like it when there is some feeling of threat or sense of menace in short stories . This essay will explore the many levels on which alcohol functions to enhance emotional expression and to create tension, a “sense of menace,” in four of Carver’s short stories.Analyzing the relationship between alcohol, emotion, and tension provides a key to the central conflict in these stories, for alcohol consumption is usually parallel and proportional to the rising action, leading to the stories’ most emotionally profound climaxes.Alcohol often acts as a social lubricant, creating emotional bonds among strangers or acquaintances, releasing the characters’ inhibitions and allowing them to reveal their deep fears and tensions in the stories they tell in their drunken state.Paradoxically, however, the characters’ loss of control while under the influence of alcohol can also menace or destroy emotional bonds, relationships, and even bodies and lives.His language, the “concrete word,” becomes crude and vulgar as he tries to prove his point about true love: “Even after he found out that his wife was going to pull through, he was still very depressed . The story ends abruptly, almost theatrically, when the gin runs out.Carver provides no resolution to the tension revealed under the influence of alcohol; he leaves the characters in the dark, listening only to their hearts beat.On the surface, this is a story of two couples drinking gin and talking about love by telling stories. But Mel refuses her this, saying “I sure as hell wouldn’t call it love” (142); he too claims ownership of the story because Terri’s first husband had threatened his life several times.As Charles May explains, through their stories the characters “encounter those most basic mysteries of human experience that cannot be explained by rational means” (40), including the intricate connection between love and violence. As Mel imbibes, he becomes less playful, less eager to reconcile their difference, and the tension mounts.Is his fictional world superficial and devoid of tension?Carver’s critical essays suggest a radically alternative approach to these issues. is partly the way the concrete words are linked together to make up the visible action of the story.


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