As I opened my eyes, I looked at the sheet we were drawing on and saw how close we were to making a cathedral. “What do you think?” said the blind man, “Did it come out the way you thought it would?” For a moment I couldn’t answer him. I was surprised at how well the cathedral was drawn out but became confused about how close we were. “It’s not quite a cathedral but it’s close enough,” I said, not giving him the satisfaction that he helped me draw it. All I could do is look at the drawing. While my wife and he sat on the couch examining the drawing, I went upstairs and sat on the edge of the bed. I closed my eyes again and tried to envision myself in his shoes. All I saw was darkness and emptiness surrounding me. I tried to paint a picture in my mind with little things a house or a bus to see how my brain would picture those things. I then open eyes, grabbed my pen and notebook and started drawing. Again, I drew a house and a bus as my references to start with. Now, I went ahead and closed my eyes and attempted to draw a house and a bus. I opened my eyes and saw crooked lines that looked nothing like a house or a bus. I tried to enter his world but wasn’t able to understand it. I went downstairs and firmly asked him “How did you help me draw that when you’re blind?” They both looked at me and my wife said, “You can’t come downstairs and be demanding like that.” The blind man didn’t say until a few moments later, “what do you mean bud?” I sat next to him and said, “How did you guide me through that drawing? I don’t understand since you’re blind you can’t see what is being drawn.” I kept looking at him waiting for him to answer him. I needed this answer to come from him. Finally, he said, “I’m still not sure what you mean” In frustration, I grabbed a pen and paper and told him to draw something on it. By his face, he seemed off-put by this idea and simply said no. I grew even more frustrated with him and slowly grew envious of him. I know he’s blind, but how does his world look? What makes his world so different? Suddenly I heard him say, “Why are you so interested in how I see the world around me?” I firmly said, “Because I want to know how you live your life as a blind person” after I said that he let out a soft chuckle and said, “Did you try and draw with your eyes closed?” I hesitated to answer but he continued, “Drawing with your eyes closed or walking around the house blindfolded isn’t the same, it doesn’t work like that” I was confused and told him, “I was trying to walk in your shoes, trying to understand what it must be like to be blind” he let out as quiet sigh and said, “Sometimes walking a mile in someone else’s shoes just puts you a mile further away from understanding someone else’s experience,” I asked, “what do mean?” and I sat next to him to listen to what he had to say, “When you walk around blindfolded around your house trying to do tasks, you bump into things since you are not used to that and when you draw with your eyes closed, and look at it, they’re just scribbles” I continued to listen, “This creates this idea that people who are blind are incapable of doing everyday tasks” “In what way?” I asked, “Essentially when people try to imitate what it’s like to be blind, they will create this idea that those who are blind are clumsy, uncoordinated, and unable to live alone” As I sat there, I thought about how he helped me draw a cathedral when I couldn’t even describe it with words. “Yeah, okay, I think I get it now,” I said to him, “Yeah I see what you mean Robert” “I’m glad that you’re starting to understand it now, bud,” he said to me. As we sat on the couch for a little while longer, it was three in the morning, and it was time to go to bed. As we headed upstairs, I asked him if he needed some help and he replied with, “I would appreciate it if you could lead me to where I would sleep at”, as I lead him to where he would sleep, I told him if he needed anything to just let me know and gave me a nod of conformation. Once he was in bed, I told him goodnight and walked towards the bed where my wife was already deep in her sleep. I quietly got into the bed and felt my eyes close after a long day.
For my major project, I decided to create an alternate ending to the short story Cathedral we read by Raymond Carver. What I wanted to accomplish through this project was to emphasize the idea that people who are able-bodied cannot simulate physical disabilities because it creates a harmful image towards those who have those physical disabilities. To begin, I used Carver’s Cathedral since it had an ending that was up to the reader to determine, I found that to be useful to expand upon it. In addition, Cathedral has 2 characters that clash since one has a physical disability (Robert) and the other doesn’t (The Narrator). The narrator gives a very closed-minded approach to those who have a disability and I wanted that to be shown in this alternate ending. This is crucial because, throughout our class readings and discussions, there is a lot of discrimination and lack of awareness towards those who are physically disabled and how they are treated. In addition, some people do try and simulate a disability by walking around the house blindfolded, only using one hand for a day, etc. So, in my alternate ending, I had the narrator do one of these simulations to give him the impression that he knows how Robert thinks, feels, and acts like someone who is blind when in fact it is more harmful than progressive. In addition, I wanted to have Robert educate the narrator in a way that isn’t aggressive since he is pretty calm in the original short story, but also bring attention to the fact that what he did was wrong and that he shouldn’t do it again. As someone who has a relative who is blind, I start to see how it’s not about trying to walk in their shoes but it’s about helping and assisting that person to be comfortable in their own shoes and have them slowly build into this different lifestyle. Even though in my project I had the narrator slowly understand what Robert is trying to say when he says, “Essentially when people try to imitate what it’s like to be blind, they will create this idea that those who are blind are clumsy, uncoordinated, and unable to live alone”, it is not always that easy to understand the lives of those with physical disabilities but one thing we can do is listen to what they have to say and not ignore it. Finally, I wanted to bring out the topic of how people with disabilities can independently do everyday things and push away from the dehumanization of those with physical disabilities. Towards the start of my alternate ending, I had the narrator call Robert “the blind man” since the narrator sees Robert as below him. Towards the end, I have the narrator call Robert by his name to show some growth towards seeing Robert as another person and break away from the dehumanization he uses by calling him “the blind man.” Even though this is an alternate ending to a short story with no concrete ending, I wanted to shed light on how people who are able-bodied should not create a false image of what a physical disability might seem like through a simulation that is harmful.
Word count: Alternate ending- 830 / Writeup- 538
“I hereby declare upon my word of honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this work.”- Brian Cruz-Lovo