Raymond Carver's sequential vision: "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" and "Cathedral"
LE3 .A278 2000
Master of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
The most recent major addition to short story sequence theory is J. Gerald Kennedy's 'Modern American Short Story Sequences: Composite Fictions and Fictive Communities' (1995). Kennedy, adopting an all inclusive stance based on the potentially infinite responses a reader may have to a given text, applies the word sequence to "all collections of three or more stories by a single author" (ix). He goes on to explore discontinuities in Raymond Carver's collection of short fiction 'Cathedral' (1983), arguing that its stories work collectively to "imply the breakdown of communal relations in ordinary, middle-class experience" (xiv). On this basis, Kennedy solidly places 'Cathedral'--heretofore not generally considered a sequence--in the sequence genre. Kennedy's study of 'Cathedral' prompts us to re-examine the range of Carver's work in the short story genre. This thesis contends that Carver's first major collection of stories, 'Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? ', possesses significant sequential characteristics. 'Cathedral ', his last major collection, goes much further. Its design, which carefully builds ambiguity into the patterning of its stories, complicates our attempts to discover thematic unity, and ultimately produces a complex sequential vision.
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