Cathedral Summary

"Feathers" tells the story of a couple, Jack and Fran, who decide to change their lives and have a child after visiting friends – but later realize that a child does not fix their unhappiness.

"Chef's House" tells the story of Edna and Wes, who live in a friend's house one summer and begin to repair their defunct marriage, but realize when they have to move that they'll never escape who they are.

"Preservation" is about Sandy and her unemployed husband, who becomes a 'frozen man,' unable to move from the sofa or take any real action in his life. When their fridge breaks, she sees him beginning to melt.

"The Compartment" follows Myers, who is taking a train trip in Europe to reconnect with his estranged son. Through hours of meditation on his life, and after losing the watch he bought the boy, Myers realizes he does not want to reconnect with the boy after all. So when he gets caught on the wrong car, he decides to ride it to wherever it goes.

"A Small, Good Thing" is about a small boy whose parents wait hopefully for his recovery after he is hit by a car. During their days of mostly sleepless waiting, a baker continuously prankcalls them, since Scotty's mom had ordered a cake before the accident and forgotten to pick it up. When he ends up dying, they realize it's the baker making the calls and confront him, only to end up having a tender conversation where the baker feeds them and tells them about his loneliness.

"Vitamins" is about an alcoholic man whose wife sells vitamins with several other girls. After some flirtation at a Christmas party, the narrator takes one of the girls on a date, but an awkward confrontation with a recently-returned Vietnam vet scares them from the bar, and the narrator returns to his wife.

"Careful" is about Lloyd, an alcoholic recently separated from his wife, Inez, and a wax buildup in Lloyd's ear. When Inez visits to discuss important matters, they focus instead of cleaning his ear, during which time Lloyd tries unsuccessfully to reconnect with her.

"Where I'm Calling From" is set in a rehab facility for alcoholics. The narrator listens to the story of a fellow patient, J.P., who tells all about meeting his chimney sweep wife, Roxy, and then nearly ruining his marriage through drinking. Through thinking about his own life and reflecting on J.P.'s story, the narrator confronts his problems and seems to decide to want to try to get better.

"The Train" is about a woman, Miss Dent, who waits in a late-night train station with two drunk people who talk about a party. Earlier that night, Miss Dent had held a gun on a man who mistreated her, and she is anxious to get on the train. It comes, and they all leave together.

"Fever" is about Carlyle, a man recently deserted by his wife and desperate to find childcare. He cannot find anyone until an old woman, Mrs. Webster, is recommended and proves dependable. When Carlyle comes down with a terrible fever, Mrs. Webster nurses him and then tells him she has to move. Carlyle confesses his deep sadness over the separation, and thereby finds the strength to move forward.

"The Bridle" is about a couple from Minnesota who move to an Arizona apartment complex run by Marge and her husband Harley. Marge is lonely but doesn't realize it, and almost forges a connection with the woman who moves in. But they remain separate, and the man hurts himself while attempting a drunken stunt near the pool. The couple leaves, and Marge is left alone again.

"Cathedral" is about a blind man who visits a married couple. The narrator, the man in the couple, is both judgmental about the man's blindness and jealous of the emotional connection the blind man shares with the narrator's wife. He remains distant and judgmental until, later that night, the blind man and narrator share an experience in drawing a cathedral, producing a spiritual epiphany in the narrator.