The short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver takes place over the course of one evening in New York, probably sometime in the 1970s or 1980s (the story was published in 1981).

Physical setting

The main physical setting is the narrator’s home (mostly the kitchen and the living room), but there are also references to other places such as Seattle, where the narrator’s wife met Robert, or Connecticut, where Robert buried his wife. 

When it comes to the narrator’s home, the setting is not described in detail. Instead, the narrator focuses on certain actions in each part of the setting. For instance, a lot of attention is given to the dinner the characters eat in the kitchen, or to the sofa and TV in the living room: “ ‘This is the sofa. We just bought this sofa two weeks ago.’ I started to say something about the old sofa. I’d liked that old sofa.”; “When we sat down at the table for dinner, we had another drink. My wife heaped Robert’s plate with cube steak, scalloped potatoes, green beans.”

Social setting

The social setting explores aspects rela...

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