Cathedral

by: Raymond Carver

Motifs

Drinking

The physical act of preparing and consuming drinks gives the story rhythm and weaves the narrative together. Before every action in the story, someone prepares a drink or sips from a drink that’s already been made. When the wife tries to kill herself, for example, she drinks a bottle of gin. Before the narrator begins listening to one of Robert’s tapes, he makes drinks. When his wife tells him about Beulah, he drinks. When he waits for her and Robert to come home from the train station, he drinks. During the evening, the three of them drink constantly. Also, as the drinking continues into the night, compounded by cigarettes and marijuana, the story takes on a dreamy tone, with meaning lurking behind every corner but never quite clearly in focus.