How does the author prepare us for this possible moment of enlightenment?
Source: “Cathedral,” Raymond Carver
Essay Topic (Prompt): Did the central character experience an epiphany in this story?
What is the theme of this story? How does the theme of the story relate to the insight gained from the epiphany? Or, how does it relate to the characters inability to experience an epiphany?• How does the epiphany affect the central character? Or If the character does not experience an epiphany, what significant insight did he or she “stumble over” it and then “walk away as if nothing had happened”? • What is the nature of the epiphany? (i.e., When and how does it occur?) • How does the author prepare us for this possible moment of enlightenment? (i.e., There must be a noticeable difference in the characters attitudes, perceptions of the world, or perceptions of self before and after this moment of enlightenment.) • How do we know for certain that the central character has experienced an epiphany? If the character did not experience an epiphany, at which point might he or she have experienced one? • In order to answer that question, you will have to do a careful character analysis of the central character, as well as consider the following questions: •
WRITING TIP Refrain from writing the essay as a list of answers to these questions. The questions are meant to be evocative, not prescriptive. In other words, the questions arent a template for the essay; rather, theyre designed to evoke thoughtful, focused analysis of the central character and are therefore questions you should consider while analyzing the character. If you write a thoughtful, well- supported essay that answers the question, “Did the central character experience an epiphany in this story?” then these questions will already be answered in the support you offer for your claim.
STRUCTURE By answering these questions, youll likely end up writing an essay that has a “before/after” design– that is, in order to answer the question, youll have to explain (and support) your claims about how/who the character is prior to the possible epiphany; then youll have to argue whether or not an epiphany–a significant change (or “revelation”)– has occurred within the character; and then you will support that claim by explaining how the character has grown and changed (or has not), as evidenced through the characters thoughts, words, attitudes, actions after the epiphany. Marshall all the evidence you possibly can from your careful, close, perceptive reading of the story and particularly of this character.