Cathedral By Raymond Carver Essay Papers

Cathedral By Raymond Carver Essay Papers-55
Freed of all of his inhibitions by alcohol, Mel reveals his true, bleak, frightening perception of love: “if something happened to one of us tomorrow, I think the other one, the other person, would grieve for a while, you know, but then the surviving party would go out and love again, have someone else soon enough.

Freed of all of his inhibitions by alcohol, Mel reveals his true, bleak, frightening perception of love: “if something happened to one of us tomorrow, I think the other one, the other person, would grieve for a while, you know, but then the surviving party would go out and love again, have someone else soon enough.

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.

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.

“Chef’s House” also explores issues of impermanence, but tension arises from alcohol very differently in this story.

In “Chef’s House,” not a single drop of alcohol is consumed, yet it is the ever-present menace just under the surface of the characters’ lives.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.As he drinks, Mel becomes more and more loquacious, gradually revealing his deep fears about the impermanence of love—and the permanence of death. He now defines love as “physical” and “sentimental,” and no longer uses the word “spiritual;” he begins favoring .At the beginning of the story, when he is sober, Mel insists that “real love is nothing less than spiritual love” (137), but later he asks, “What do any of us really know about love? Ultimately, the purpose of Mel’s monologue is to come to terms with the fleeting nature of love and life.They move into a house owned by Chef, Wes’s sponsor, and start spending a blissful summer there together.Edna yearns for permanence, symbolized by her wedding ring: “I found myself wishing the summer wouldn’t end. Alcohol, which gave him the confidence to ask for his first kiss, destroyed J.In “On Writing,” Carver insists that in a short story, “what creates tension . But it’s also the things that are left out, that are implied, the landscape just under the smooth (but sometimes broken and unsettled) surface of things” (17).This suggests that critics who respond solely to the characters’ consumption of alcohol to blunt or evade emotion on the “surface of things” miss much of the emotional tension created or revealed by alcohol underneath the “visible action” of the story. There has to be tension, a sense that something is imminent” (17).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.Do Carver’s inebriated and/or alcoholic characters drink to evade emotional connections?

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