Reading Response #10

Select one of the stories assigned this week, and post a 500-word response below on what you saw as the story’s strengths and weaknesses. Compare the selected story to the other two stories you read.  Similarities?  Differences? Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.\



22 thoughts on “Reading Response #10

  1. Katherine Whelchel

    “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien was heart-wrenching. I found it very interesting how Tim wrote it though. There was a certain casual air about it that only added to the gutted feeling as I read. It seemed that the moments encapsulated in the story were deepened by each character’s light view on them, that the casual breath was a way of communicating a deeper motive. They were men at war, and it was a story about what they carried, but it was so much more. A clear glimpse into the heart of men was given, through the different stories each character portrayed.

    Starting off with material possessions was wise. It almost tricked me into thinking that it would be a lighter, more informative piece, maybe with a bit of humor; the only deeper meaning would come maybe from some symbolism. I thought that I would come to love each character from only knowing what they carried. I wasn’t wrong, as I did in a way come to connect with each man in the story. As I read about Jimmy Cross’s letters from Martha that he carried I saw a young boy in a man’s body needing hope and something to continue marching for. With more reading, I soon came to the conclusion that this is what everyone needed.

    Tim soon turned the paper to the deep emotional and mental weights each man carried as they were face to face with death and the struggles that came when only their souls were there to try and keep them sane. There was a focus on what each of them would do to try and hide their fear and move on. “They were afraid of dying but they were even more afraid to show it.” What heavy weights each one of them held on their young shoulders. And finally, Jimmy Cross is left with the pain of guilt and nowhere for it to go but into his leadership.

    When purely looking at the writing style, I thought that the greatest strength was the connection of the material, usually unnoticed, things, with the deep emotions that the men felt in the story. Tim O’Brien set it up so that the smallest thing someone carried opened up their heart and showed who that person was. It also led to that almost casual feel that strengthened the dire view of the men’s situations.

    When comparing this to “Cathedral”, I felt that there were large differences in the stories, but some similarities in the feel of both. They both held a glimpse into the lives of the characters without giving away everything about them. Like a chapter in a book, the authors only gave us part of their lives to make what we would of them. Both stories told of people who didn’t seem to have much hope for the future. They had grown into ruts of routine. The stories were very different though. From ‘men at war’ to ‘his wife’s blind friend’, they each showed different lives, which is like fiction in a nutshell; different strange, real, or exciting lives created inside our minds.

    1. Jessica Honebein

      Katherine! I have read this story a couple times for different classes and every time it seems to be “heart- wrenching.” I picked up on a lot of similarities so it was nice to hear that you thought they were different and get some new perspectives on the story. I think that it is a tie between this story and “Cathedral” on which one is my favorite story. I love how much detail and thought is put into the story as Tim narrates, as well as the background he gives. However I love the narrators background and thought given in the story “Cathedral” as well!

  2. Andrew Lange

    I found “The Things They Carried” to be the most moving out of all three stories by far, as did at least one other individual who has responded at the time of this writing. The story begins with some detailed descriptions and vivid imagery.

    At the opening of the story, a unit of troops are marching through the Veitnam jungle, clearly set during the Veitnam War. The story breaks this down into layman’s terms, literally lining out the weight of each item each member of the platoon carries, making the reader imagining what an ordeal this must be, day-in and day-out.

    As the story continues, this particular unit searches enemy tunnels and burns a village (some of this imagery admittedly had me skimming a bit; some of it was heartbreaking and grotesque or otherwise a bit sensitive, even to read about).

    This story ties back to the other two in several ways. First of all, elaborate imagery is discussed: The authors all use unusually vivid descriptions, ranging from how annoyingly heavy a 1970’s radio and its prehistoric (probably heavy lead-acid) battery is to the imagery of someone passing logging trucks on a rural highway while having their own equally tumultuous internal thoughts. Additionally, the stories have some structure, although they do also simply plunge the reader in at their beginning, for instance a husband being less than enthralled by his wife’s company of a blind man whom she mentored a decade earlier or an Army platoon marching through the jungle during the Veitnam War.

    The authors play with the characters’ internal conflicts as well throughout their respective pieces. For instance, in “The Things They Carried”, a lieutenant’s personal struggle with the terminus of a long-distance love relationship is explained, and operationalized with how his unit becomes slightly less than shipshape. As the story wears on, he elects to forget about the relationship. Much as he burns her old letters, his unit burns a village. A member of their unit is shot and killed; later in the story he digs a hole and buries the good-luck charm she sent him some time before the outset of the story. The story continues to draw parallels like this; the main character’s personal struggles, including the responsibility for the safety of his unit during their deployment being tied back to his own personal struggles and feelings of responsibility or lack thereof for a failed romantic relationship.

    Finally, I enjoyed Kercheval’s writing. It did get somewhat boring at times, but one thing I enjoyed was some of the descriptions contained therein. One I found particuly amusing, to the point of laughing out loud, was the “Alarm-clock” analogy: Many disposable creative-writing stories literally begin with the main character waking up and going about their day, a far-overused theme: The author relates a story from a creative-writing class in which for nine out of ten required pages the student’s story goes on about a morning routine, then running out of room steps outside and is struck by a meteor.

    1. Katherine Whelchel

      I also really enjoyed “The Things They Carried” and the beautiful pictures mixed with the simplicity of the language. After reading your post, you seemed to recognize the descriptions and details in the writing style, along with the overall theme and emotions portrayed in a very thorough way. I enjoyed reading your post! 🙂

  3. Jessica Honebein

    The story I am picking to reflect on is “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver. I enjoyed all three of the readings this week, but I liked the plot in this story the most. The story plot stems from a blind man and the narrator leaks little by little information on him as the story goes on. I like that the narrator was able to get over his jealousy and actually meet Robert (the blind man) himself. I think that it helped give the narrator a different perspective on the way that he look at things. I think that only having three character to focus on helped make the story very strong. It gave it a personal touch, and helped me connect with the characters as I read from the narrator’s point of view. I think that the personal touch helped to express how Robert could see things compared to how the narrator saw things. Another aspect that stood out to me and made the story stronger was the image of the cathedral in the end. It represented being able to truly see what is within, not just skimming the surface like the narrator had been doing the whole time. I think that the other symbol that was emphasized in the story was the audiotapes. They were emphasized because they seemed to add understanding to not seeing but just feeling and expressing in the moment. The last thing that I feel was very strong in the story was the fact that it was written from a first person point of view. As the story went on and it revealed the impacts that Robert the blind man had on the narrator and eventually changing the perspective that he had.

    Overall, I do not feel that the story had any weak points that needed to be addressed. Everything seemed to flow well and give an interesting overall meaning to the reader. “The Things they Carried” I have read a couple times before in a few other classes. I would say that I love reading it every time though. It is similar in a way that it gives off an interesting perspective and insight as well. I think that these two stories almost share a common theme of emotional and physical barriers. They may both be expressing them in a little bit of a different way but they both encompass the theme. Along with this it is also written with a first person perspective, I think that this helps both the stories by giving the reader a more personal feel. Lastly imagery is used in both of these stories and within the image includes an underlying meaning.

    Kerchevals pages were also very interesting to read and contained similarities to both the stories as well. I think that this one is a little harder to completely relate to the stories though. It seems to be more of a “how to” then a story itself. It does contain little stories within, which is what kept my attention. I think that this almost helps to lay some of the skeleton for the other stories that were read. I think it is more of a interesting way to explain how ideas can start to form a good story.

    1. Michelle Cordova

      HI Jessica,

      I really enjoyed your reflection on “Cathedral” and felt that the story had a good flow and was interesting to read. I, too, felt that the major similarity was the way they both described different obstacles people have to overcome to truly live their best lives and be happy.

  4. Michelle Cordova

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. He took such personal stories and, at least for me, made them somewhat relatable from one collection to the next. The way he was able to put his feelings onto paper, so seemingly easy, made my heart ache time and time again as I clearly envisioned the characters and felt their fears and guilt.

    O’Brian starts out by describing, in great detail, the physical things he and his battle buddies carried in their rucksacks- matches, guns, letters, water, etc. , and even gives the reader exact weights for many items, allowing us to get a sense of the physical burden these men endured while marching, fighting in a war many of them did not agree with. Along with that, he described the intangible things these men carried- love, anxiety, remorse- explaining that there was more to them than what the government wanted them to be.

    In “Spin,” O’Brien recalls some parts of the war that weren’t all blood and misery, but then he tells us the average age of the men in his platoon, making my stomach turn as I thought of these young men fighting and dying, not by their own free will. The story goes on, through Enemies and Friends, telling us of the ways war makes people do crazy things, like fight amongst each other then turn around and become pals. “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” was a little more amusing for me to read as the men described ways in which to bring females over to visit, but I really got a kick out of him mentioning a girl from Cleveland Heights Senior High, as that is where my mom is from and where she went to high school, which was interesting!

    “Stockings” and “Church” were short and light, which helped break up the tone, which was nice. They were a little happier than much of the rest of the story, but then we get into “Ambush” and “The Man I Killed” which, I felt, was more about O’Brien confronting his own guilt about killing a boy as he described the pain he felt in throwing the grenade, but wanting to warn the kid. Lastly, the story ends with “The Lives of the Dead” which sort of explains how stories can help save people while recreating the dead in our own minds, sometimes changing scenes to ones that better portray how we want the memories to be.

    Although I enjoyed “The Things They Carried,” I also enjoyed “Cathedral” for different reasons. Both stories kept my attention from beginning to end, even though “Cathedral” felt a little less put together and seemed to be missing words here and there. In some ways, I felt that these two stories were similar as they both described different obstacles people have to overcome. In “Cathedral”, it was the ill-mannered husband, who wasn’t overly happy about the blind man coming to stay with them for a night. However, in the end, he found a connection with the blind man, let go of his anger, and found peace and understanding for those around him rather than belittling them.

    1. Caitlyn Williams

      Hi Michelle, I really liked your analyzation of “The Things They Carried”. I too found it interesting that they included the weight of the various material things. It really shows the hardships they carried whether it be physical material, or emotional baggage. I also liked that the author made each of the soldiers have personality. The different things they carried shows who they are and what they did. It shows how they coped, and I think that really makes the characters have personality.

  5. Caitlyn Williams

    I really liked the short story, “Cathedral”. I liked the length of this story; I also liked that the story took place in one setting. One strength in this story is that the main character is so blunt. The perspective of “Cathedral” was unique. It was a bit bland, but interesting at the same time. The beginning has an interesting hook, and the main concept is meeting a blind man for the first time. Some weaknesses of this story were that some of the sentence structures made the story sound monotonous. However, the dialogue in this short story was great. It made the story have more depth and flow. The characters personalities were captured in the story, and it shows through in the dialogue said.

    The second short story in VBCSS was “The Things They Carried” was another fairly easy read. I liked the POV compared to the first story. (2nd POV vs. 1st POV) I think that 2nd person POV makes it easier for the storyteller to reveal things in the story. I liked the way the author described different things. I found this particular story really insightful. I haven’t read many stories about war, so this gave me a clear idea of what happened during this war. The things they carried were important, and I liked that the author chose to write about the soldiers’ lives as well as the material things. Some strengths of this short story are that the POV makes it more interesting, and that there was a clear meaning to the story.

    “Cathedral” and “The Things they Carried” were more similar to each other compared to “Building Fiction”. I had more fun reading the two short stories because they were an experience with a good plot, rather than a book about how to write fiction. Kerchevals’ book contained stories, but I enjoyed reading the short stories in The Vintage book of Contemporary American Short Stories.

    Although I liked the short stories, Kerchevals’ book was really helpful. “Building Fiction” is going to really help me understand how plot structure, setting, and character development make a story great. It’s going to make the Short Assignment less overwhelming, and I appreciate it. I liked that this book had headings, that is a strength of this reading. It makes navigating the book a lot easier. A strength of this story was that it contained stories in it. This helped by giving examples, and it kept me interested. Overall, my favorite read had to be “Cathedral”. Even though the plot was a bit unclear, it was a casual read, and an experience that was shared well.

  6. Aubri Stogsdill

    “The Things We Carried” was an incredibly written story! I Don’t think I’ve ever read something that used repetition in such an impactful way. The whole story felt like such a whirlwind. By going back and forth from Jimmy’s daydreams of Martha to the death of Lavender, and the descriptions of both mental and emotional things that the soldiers were carrying, caused me to feel like I was on a sort of wheel… going around over and over- I would speed up my reading. It made me feel somewhat anxious, which I think was the author’s goal.

    I loved that the things they carried were not limited to physical things, rather the author goes in depth about the emotional struggles that the soldiers had and how that had a real impact on the way that they walked. The intense pressure and stress that develops on the battlefields seem to be communicated very well. While I know that is fiction, I felt like it gave me a better understanding of what it feels like to be in a war. I felt sympathy for the soldiers, wanting desperately to get them out of that situation and bring them somewhere safe. I also really felt pain for Jimmy. Clearly, he is in love with Martha, but there is nothing that can be done about it. And that love distracts him from keeping his men alive. Because of this, he carries the burden of guilt-blood on his hands.

    I kept wanting to know Martha more as I read. I wanted her to love Jimmy so badly. Yet at the end, I felt like that hope was killed. As Jimmy burns the photos and letters its as if he is burying Martha in his mind. Almost forcing himself to ‘grow up’ as if his love for her was childish and immature.

    Another thing that I found interesting about this story was the descriptions of why the soldiers did what they did. As a woman, I generally don’t identify with a desire for combat or fighting or even a fear of being seen as weak. I don’t really mind if people see my weakness generally speaking, but here is portrayed a desire to be seen as anything but weak or afraid. They make jokes in the face of death in order to appear unshaken. They go to war because they are afraid to look like cowards. I’ve never considered this being a motivation for becoming a soldier.

    1. Naimy Schommer

      I love how you noted Jimmy’s burning of Martha’s photos showed the turning point in his maturity. He saw it as a releasing of his childish whims.

    2. Ben Knapp

      I totally agree that the story makes the reader care for the characters. The author does a really good job at making the characters feel real, and the reader can’t help but to sympathize with them. Your essay did a really good job of summing up the short story.

  7. Naimy Schommer

    When I read “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, all I can think of is Hemingway. This piece is written in a similar style and structure as that of Hemingway’s work. They are both prime examples of the simple, minimalistic, ‘masculine’ writing style. Both writers employ inconclusive endings in their work to involve their reader in rounding out the characters they write about. I think the “null” or ambiguous ending is an interesting way to get your readers more invested in the story. If you as a writer drop your story off abruptly, it leaves the readers to develop or imagine their own ending to the writer’s work. This can work in one of two ways: either the reader can recognize this as a creative choice from the writer and goes with it, or they are frustrated at the lack of resolution in a story they’ve come to care about. I am indifferent with “Cathedral”; I recognize the creative choice but didn’t really develop any of my own theories after initially reading. Using this technique also prompts the reader to look back at the text critically to see if there were any clues to the ending woven into the story.

    Something that I’m not really sure how to feel about is the ending scene of the story. The dialogue and action between the blind man and the narrator is heavy with sexual tension, and I’m not sure that’s reflective of the story’s purpose. I don’t know if it was meant to carry that weight, but it’s really all I could think about while reading: it reads like a seduction scene. The narrator’s wife’s horror and disbelief at the pair only goes to further this thought.

    I don’t know. This was a strange short story for me. It was confusing and didn’t entirely sit right. Which is fine, I mean that could have been the whole point, but it’s not something I probably would ever revisit.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      I agree! I was in the group of being frustrated at the lack of resolution, I could appreciate an inconclusive ending if there were purpose or more material in the text, but there really is not, as far as I can see. I didn’t completely get the vibe of sexual tension from the husband and the blind guy, but I was extremely curious of why the wife was so loud in her question of what they were doing. She seemed distraught and almost horrified. It makes me wonder, now that I’m typing and now that I’ve read your response, if they were even drawing at all. Who knows. There is too many questions left over after this short story for me to be appreciative of it. I seriously wrote out a page of different questions and looking back through the text there is nothing that would give any conclusive answers. This is the worst type of mystery, an unsolved one. I really wonder what the author was thinking.
      Another question I had, that seemed off topic, even with the mention of the cathedral, was the random and short inquisition of religion. I thought that was going to go somewhere, but it did not. I don’t know, it was sort of a frustrating story for me. It made me think, I will give it that. Though, my thought process doesn’t last long with it, because there’s not enough cohesive material.

  8. Corbin Knapp

    The short story I chose for my reading review is “Cathedral “ by Raymond Carver. I enjoyed reading all of the assignments this week, but this story stood out to me the most due to its flowing language and the interesting interactions between the characters. It was such a well-written tale that it engaged me from the very beginning. I also found that “Cathedral” has a morale that you should not judge people by stereo-types, which is a moral that I strongly agree with.

    The story starts off with a man’s wife telling him that her blind friend’s wife had just died and that he was going to stop by on his way to see his wife’s relatives in Connecticut. I find it interesting that the first couple pages of the story are details of how his wife knows the blind man named Robert. It provides some background to how his wife knows Robert. I think that this is a great addition to the story and it wouldn’t make as much sense if this section was taken out. She continues to tell him how much this man means to her as she describes how they sent tapes to each other over the years.

    The man doesn’t think very highly of Robert, and his wife gets mad at him, because of his stereotypical view of what he thinks Robert will look like. This is another important part of the short story, because in my opinion this shows that the man is jealous of how much attention Robert is getting from his wife. When Robert shows up at their house, the man is astonished at the way he looks because he was expecting a stereotypical blind man.

    The interactions between these three characters is masterfully done. The way they speak and their unique traits and flaws make each one of them stand out throughout the story. The narrator of the story is a man that I can say is firm in his beliefs, but can be a little bit of a jerk at times. I liked how he was more friendly towards Robert near the end. His wife was nicer than the narrator and I think she might be a little depressed, because of her attempted suicide earlier in her life when she was married to an officer. This puts a very realistic feel into the story and makes her character stand out even more. Robert is a very real character that is kind and understanding , which makes him one of the more moral characters in the story. He also has a very dry sense of humor which adds a little bit of lightness into what is otherwise a very serious piece.

    “Cathedral” was an interesting read and I was amazed at how much feeling and information can be put into a short story. I hope that when I write my short story I can make my charterers as interesting as the ones featured in “Cathedral” as well. I am looking forward to the next assigned short stories from this book.

    Works Cited
    Carver, Raymond. “Cathedral.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 108-124.

  9. Ben Knapp

    “Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure,” by Jesse Lee Kercheval, is an experienced writer’s thoughts and insights into how to build an effective story. Although it may be a bit dry in places, the book is full of helpful insights and ideas for the budding writers. I may not have been entirely entertained at all times whilst I was reading the book, but the information provided was invaluable, and more than made up for the rather unexciting tone.

    One thing that stood out to me about the book was how the author made extensive use of quotations from successful people, but not only authors. On the first page, she compares Frank Lloyd Wright’s method of looking at a landscape before planning out a building to how a writer should look at his or her surroundings before plunging into the writing. This analogy is helpful, but also serves as an example of the author’s use of references from other’s work.

    One thing I didn’t like about the book was how the tone seemed a bit dry. Although it is not without its interesting parts, there were places in the book where I did feel a bit like I was reading a textbook. However, this may have been what the author was going for. If it is a textbook, then it is certainly entertaining for a textbook, and there is nothing wrong with this form.

    The book is very thorough in its examination of the different techniques used for writing. This thoroughness may have partly what gave it its “textbook” feel. However, it is also one of the books greatest strengths. It is positively brimming with every known literary trick the author could find, as well as, I am sure, a few of her own devising.

    One thing the author talks about a lot is tying elements of a story together. No part of the book is complete, without talking about how the element being discussed can be tied in to a different element, to make the story more involved. That is not to say that she ignores the human element, however. Kerchaval is always careful to include even more information as to help your characters feel real as they interact with their environment.

    This book was also very helpful to me personally. Something I have always struggled with in my writing was beginning. Starting any kind of piece has always been difficult for me. The book has an entire chapter dedicated to different ways of beginning a story. It takes into account how an introduction sets the tone of your writing and draws the reader into the story, but it also covers how your beginning should tie into the rest of your work.

    Altogether, I rather enjoyed reading the book. I had some doubts at first, especially considering its dry tone, but in the end it won me over. The book offers very useful advice and in no small quantity. Despite my misgivings, the book turned out to be an informative and entertaining read.

    Works Cited

    Kercheval, Jesse. Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure. The University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.

    1. Corbin Knapp

      Hey Ben!
      I totally agree with your response! I thought that Kercheval’s book was a little dry, but I also found that it provides invaluable tips and tricks for improving your own writing. In fact it helped me come up with a good outline for and idea I was thinking about writing, which I posted in the creative essay section. Nice response!

  10. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    The story that I picked to do my reflection on is “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver. Throughout all three of the readersing I found that this piece stuck in my brain better. It drew my attention and was quite interesting. I was very intrigued once the story brought up the blind man and the guys wife. I felt like the husband was quit jealous at times. I liked that the author never revealed anything to early or told the reader what was gonna happen. Everything happened in a way that made you want to read more and figure out the ending. The writing style was also helpful. I loved the detail but also how simple it was to read. Everything seemed to flow so well and nothing felt out of place.

    Another thing I liked about this piece was that there was only three characters. Usually there are more in a story, so this was a nice change. Having three characters makes things so incredibly easy to follow along with. ALso I feel like we get more character development so we understand the characters better. Especially this story, I found these characters very interesting. You hear the wife and the blind guys history together, but the narrator is more of a mystery. The narrator is very skeptical of the blind guy throughout the story, and I was constantly wondering why. It’s just a blind guy, right?

    But I felt that as I read more of the story things were just a little weird. It was almost as if I could sense the weirdness of things through the words Carver had written. For example, when the narrator’s wife went upstairs to get dressed but took a long time. And the narrator notes that to the reader so something was definitely up. There was almost a creepy feeling but also completely normal. I think that is why I liked this story the most out of the two. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next, plus there was not a single weak point in the story that made me want to stop reading. I think Carver did a great job catching the reader’s attention with this story line. I haven’t read something like this before so I thought he did a great job.

    “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien was my second favorite out of the three stories. Like “Cathedral” I found it full of detail but also simple, making it easy to read and enjoyable. I thought the way O’Brien was able to put feelings into words and make them feel so real was incredible. That helped make his story feel so real while reading it. I really liked that both of these stories kept my attention throughout the entire storyline, there wasn’t a point when I wanted to stop reading. Even though though they told two completely different stories I felt like they were similar in so many ways. I liked the two different obstacles the main characters had to overcome, I felt like that really brought so much more to the stories and made them very enjoyable.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      I hear what you’re saying with Cathedral, but why did nothing ever really happen? I mean it did get me at first, I did like the writing style and the husbands character was intriguing, but it never seemed like it went anywhere. There was a definite mysterious undertone that hung around the entire story, like you felt like something fishy was going on or something was about to happen. That something, seemed like it was going to be relatively big as well, considering the low grade monotone and subtle mystery that had gone on from the beginning. There just never was that thing ya know? I never felt like there was a climax and so with that, there wasn’t really an ending. It left me super disappointed, more so because it had so much promise at the beginning. It honestly, left me feeling kind of annoyed, like really? THAT’s the way that it ends? I’ve felt like that with movies before and it gives you a feeling like you just wasted minutes of your life. 😉 smiley face to take the edge off of brutal honesty.

  11. Monica Gallagher

    Cathedral was disappointing to me. The beginning was so interesting and the portrayal of the main character, the husband, was so strong that I wanted to read more. The husband was dry and kind of a prick. As he’s describing the story of his wife and this blind guy, you begin to realize the type of person that he is, and it’s not very nice. He has no empathy and is not very compassionate or understanding. As the story continues you have a feeling that there is going to be this epic climax. I initially thought that there was going to be some sort of murder at the house that night. Either the husband was going to kill the blind guy, or the blind guy was going to kill the husband. There was a very apparent underlying jealousy going on with the husband for sure, and possibly the blind guy towards the female character. I also have been into thriller genre lately, so there’s that.

    The story takes a turn for me and the two male characters start to connect on some level, then religion is mentioned, which I’m still not sure what that brings about. I think possibly the blind guy had a feeling that the husband had an issue and was curious and trying to help him out. Which leads into the scene of them doing the drawing and then the story closing abruptly, which was the disappointing part for me. The story did a good job of pulling me in initially, but it failed for a climax, meaning and closure. It left me with a lot of questions, that are not able to be fully answered with the text that’s provided, only on a theoretical level. The questions themselves do not necessarily correlate into one main premise or theme, which is even more disappointing.

    The Things They Carried is an epic story. This one did a great job of opening, climax and ending. The overuse of lists, thought monotonous at times, gives a huge metaphorical meaning of the soldiers’ character and what they’re carrying emotionally. The realism in the portrayal of survival is great. It shows the twists and dark nooks and crannies of what has to be, when you’re at the threat of death on a consistent and constant basis. There was a defined and appreciated moral behind the story of this writing as well as an intricate portrayal of war life. I didn’t see many similarities at all in both stories. The differences were apparent in writing styles and were also noted in the structure of climax and closure in The Things They Carried and the lack there of in Cathedral.

    Building Fiction is good so far, very informative and practical. I appreciate reading a book about writing from an actual writer. I respect the exercises that are shown in each chapter, they are helpful at generating ideas. I like how the author does not necessarily take it too seriously, saying that you can always rewrite or reword it later. The suggestion thus far is to use the tools and just go ahead and write and the ability to restructure is always there. It really takes the anxiety out of starting the writing process.

    1. Cassidy Kramer

      Hey Monica!
      I totally agree with you! I thought the story “Cathedral” was going to have some kind of secret coming out, like the man finding out that the blind man and the wife had a thing in the past, or an affair that night, or that he was only color blind and not really blind (which I would think was hilarious). So i was also pretty disappointed with that story, but I also liked it.

  12. Cassidy Kramer

    I read “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver. I thought this story was very interesting. First, the main character obviously knows very little about blind people. When he says things like I have always pictured blind people as the ones on TV, always wearing black shades, and carrying around a cane or always having a seeing eye dog with them. In the beginning of the story, I thought he was being very rude towards blind people. I also thought that he was a bit jealous of Robert in the way that Robert got so much attention from his wife, and maybe that is why he was hesitant about Robert coming to visit.
    As for the strengths of “Cathedral”, I thought that Carver did a great job at capturing the awkwardness and how casual it was between Robert and “Bub”. Especially when the wife falls asleep and they are just sitting there watching TV. I like this part because Carver really turned the main character’s attitude towards blind people with a TV show about Cathedrals. When Robert was drawing with the main character, it was also an interesting part to read for me. I was engaged in the story for most parts, but mostly because I thought something big was going to happen. Like say the main character found out a big secret between his wife and Robert. Or a humorous turn I would want to read would be that Robert is only colorblind. I thought these would be more interesting to read about than drawing a Cathedral for a blind man for me. However, I can see what Carver meant to do.
    The other two stories were less interesting to me, which is why I chose “Cathedral” to talk about. I thought “The Things They Carried” was very sad. Not only did Lieutenant Jimmy Cross not get the girl, but he also has this huge burden on him when Lavender died. I think these stories have a little in common in terms of realization. Bub in “Cathedral” came to believe that blind people weren’t at all what he thought they would be, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross in “The Things They Carried” realized that this love that goes one way is not worth daydreaming about if it costs him his duties, and Kercheval in “Building Fiction” realizes what helps set apart your stories, not making them like the other “first, I woke up” stories. I am glad I read what Kercheval had to say about that because honestly, I wouldn’t have noticed and probably would have made the mistake of using that in my writing.

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