Human Connection in Cathedral and The Swimmer
Raymond Carver and John Cheever’s characters seem disconnected from others in many stories. Discuss how Carver and Cheever develop the theme of the necessity of human connection in “Cathedral” and “The Swimmer.”
-Raymond Carver, “Cathedral,” p. 1532
-John Cheever, “The Swimmer,” p. 1183
Human connection is a complex theme that is largely linked to the manner people communicate with one another. Certain groups in society find it much easier to connect with others. Human connection is, to some extent, determined by social class, physical differences, and shared interests. Raymond Carver and John Cheever in their stories “Cathedral” and “The Swimmer” respectively explore the sophisticated nature of human connection and its relevance at all levels. Carver bases his story on inevitable social differences, whereas Cheever bases his on social status. In both stories, characters are disconnected from one another either at the beginning or at the end.In the short story Cathedral, Robert and the narrators are disconnected at the beginning of the story. The narrator believes that Robert is disadvantaged and cannot connect with people (Carver 10). Ironically, at the close of the story, Robert drives the narrator to the realization that he is indeed the one who is disadvantaged as his prejudice bars him from connecting with people. Carver reveals that it is only life devoid of prejudices that can make people accept one another as equals and connect even better. Cheever, on the other hand, convinces the readers that lack of connection can erode all the happiness that one once had. Neddy refuses to connect with people from the lower status (Cheever 732). He also has no connection with his wife by virtue of the extramarital with Shirley Adams. The conclusion that can be made from Cheever’s story is that weak relationships and flimsy foundations ultimately lead to life regrets.
Carver, Raymond. Cathedral. 1983.
Cheever, John. The Swimmer. The New Yorker, 1978.