A short story by Raymond Carver
This short story opens with an irritated and sometimes hostile narrator whose wife has invited a blind friend to spend the night. The narrator tells us immediately that his visitor's blindness bothers him and that he is not looking forward to having a blind man in his house. The vehemence of his prejudice is surprising. His initial anger and anxiety seem way out of proportion to the situation, as if this blind man were threatening him somehow.
Gradually, as the evening wears on, the narrator begins to relax with the blind man, though he still challenges him in all sorts of ways, such as drinking, smoking cigarettes and dope, and turning on the TV (which, of course, the blind man cannot see). A documentary about cathedrals is showing. The narrator tries to describe a cathedral in words. When that doesn't succeed, the blind man holds the narrator's hand as he draws a cathedral on a paper bag. The experience of this successful communication transforms the narrator.
As the blind man says, "Terrific. You're
doing fine. Never thought anything like this could happen in your
lifetime?" The narrator closes his eyes and draws blind, saying, "So
we kept on with it. His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper.
It was like nothing in my life up to now." The ending leaves us pondering
about how much more the narrator is learning about himself and about human
communication than the blind man is learning about cathedrals.
* This summary was written
Carol Donley and appears in the Literature,
Arts & Medicine Database, an annotated bibliography of prose, poetry,
film, video and art which was developed by the New York University School of
Carver, Raymond. Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories Random
House: Vintage (