Ray Carver and Tim O’Brien: Group Worksheet
Group member names: ________________________________________________
Note: a “secretary” can type in summaries of the group’s discussion for each question directly into this Word document. When finished, the secretary should send a copy to each member, so that they can post the work in their Cyber Class threads.
Some Questions about Raymond Carver’s "Cathedral"
1) How would you describe the narrator and central character of "Cathedral"? What kind of guy is he? What does he value? What does he fear? How educated is he? What’s his fundamental problem? Explain and support your answers.
2) How would you describe the narrator's wife? Be specific and provide examples.
3) How would you describe Robert? Quote some passages which reveal the kind of person/character he is.
4) What questions, established early on in "Cathedral," create the story’s narrative suspense? What is it you want to find out?
5) Describe the story's plot, keeping in mind our discussions and class work with plot and plot devices.
6) Are the narrative questions in "Cathedral" answered in the end? What do you make of the story’s final scene(s)? What’s happening, really?
7) How would you describe Carver’s style? Consider his diction (word choices), sentence length and structure, point of view, and tone of voice. What effect do you suppose he’s after? How might style reinforce what his story is ultimately about?
Questions for “How to Tell a True War Story”
1) How would you describe the plot of this story? Remember that “plot” is the sequence or order of events. Is this story’s plot chronological or linear? Episodic? Circular? A montage? What plot devices is this writer using? Flashbacks? Framing? Multiple plots? False endings?
We’ve only just touched on plot in our class discussions so far, but do as well as you can with this question. The story obviously does not have a traditional plot—do as well as you can.
2) What is this story’s narrative question? That is, what question(s) drive the plot? What are we reading to find out?
3) Who are the story’s main characters? What is the main character’s chief problem or issue? Who is the main character?
4) The title of this piece suggests that the story will ultimately explain or give instructions for telling a true war story. So—how does one tell a true war story? What are the particular difficulties, according to this narrator, in telling the events of war? What is this narrator saying about “truth” and how we understand it?
5) Do you happen to know anyone in Iraq (or anyone who has been on active duty there)? Do you know anyone who has been in any other war?
8) Draw a meaningful connection between your experience/understanding of the Iraq war and Tim O’Brien’s story.