The language used in “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver is casual and the tone is conversational. It is as if the narrator is talking to us, telling us about an event in his life. The speech-like features of the language are created through rhetorical questions, sarcasm, and the conversational tone: “This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night. His wife had died.”, “Her officer—why should he have a name? he was the childhood sweetheart, and what more does he want?”
Sarcasm is noticeable particularly in the way the narrator makes observations about the blind man and his life, such as when he thinks about Robert’s relationship with his wife: “She could if she wanted, wear green eye-shadow around one eye, a straight pin in her nostril, yellow slacks, and purple shoes, no matter.”
Imagery conveys visual images in connection to the characters’ looks and actions: "This blind man was late forties, a heavy-set, balding man with stooped shoulders, as if he carried a great weight there. He wore brown slacks, brown shoes, a light-brown shirt, a tie, a sports coat."; "I watched with admiration as he used his knife and fork on the meat. He’d cut two pieces of the meat, fork the meat into his mouth, and then go all out for the scalloped potatoes, the beans next..."
Dialogue overlaps with the narrator’s discursive account of the events and his comments, making the story more dynamic and appealing. Furthermore, the author makes use of a variety of language devices to convey aspects about the characters and deeper meanings.
Similes and metaphors
Similes are scarce in the short story, and when they are employed they are simple and explicative, such as in the following...