How passivity effect the characters in a work of literature

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:English

Document 1

Passivity also takes away the freedom of passive characters in a work of literature as evident in Raymond Carver short story Cathedral. The narrator’s wife has no freedom and cannot make any decision in their summer home. She needs urgent medical attention as well as a change of environment to improve her mental condition which is becoming worse with every passing day. Passivity makes the passive characters in a work of literature to suffer as a result of the actions and patronizing ways of active characters. In the Cathedral, the narrator suffers emotionally and fear his wife. He is aware of her wife constant communication with the blind man through audiotapes in which her wife even mentions him to the blind man.

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She tells the blind man everything personal including her feelings about marital life and the challenges she was going through. The narrator seems uneasy about the wife maintaining contact and trusting this blind man and her poems. However, he does not confront her to stop writing poems or request her to cut off communication with her former employer. Instead, he tells himself that maybe that is her wife’s means of recreation “…I think it was her chief means of recreation” (Carver 2). He has to wait for his wife to make the next decision about their life so that he can play along. Robert is fearful of his host and wants to fit in by doing anything. He consents to nearly everything the narrator asks without objection.

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When the narrator asks him whether he smokes, he nods and even after having enough drinks, he could not resist more glasses when asked (Carver 8). Robert remains a follower and only take charge towards the end of the short story when he guides the narrator to draw a cathedral. She knows she needs help but is reluctant to make a bold move since any move against her husband wishes will be viewed as an act of disrespect (Gilman 647). She chose to suffer in solitude and confined in what she describes as a haunted house, “John does not know how much I really suffer… it is only nervousness” (Gilman 649). John believes that she is supposed to rest and not engage in any strenuous work including writing.

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She has been reduced to a toddler and cannot make decisions. However, she feels that doing interesting work, freedom, and activity will improve her condition (Gilman 648). The narrator is forced to stay in their summer home despite her worsening mental condition. The narrator feels suffocated after a few weeks of stay in their summer home and tells John that she wants to leave the place. She believes that breaking from her monotonous and imprisoning routine will help her feel much better. John does not approve of her wishes and explains that it is not possible since they have to wait for a little longer (Gilman 652). She has to stay against her will because it is what her physician husband wants and not what she thinks is right.

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