Bullet in the Brain
Character: Wolff, “Bullet in the Brain”; Carver, “Cathedral”
REQUIRED TEXT: Charters, The Story and Its Writer, compact 9th ed.
“Bullet in the Brain”
2. What does the opening scene tell us about Anders’ personality, and his attitude toward others? What bothers him most, and how does he express himself?
3. What’s the purpose of the minor characters—the women standing in front of Anders in line, for example?
4. The narrator spends an entire paragraph describing the painting on the ceiling. How does that set up the dialogue that follows?
5. Why can’t Anders stop talking?
6. Why does the narrator give us the detailed anatomy of the bullet’s impact on Anders? What does it reveal?
7. Why does the narrator list what Anders doesn’t remember? What does the list suggest about Anders?
8. What does Anders like about what he does remember? Why such beautiful language here?
9. What does the story seem to be saying about memory?
1. What is the core conflict in this story? Who is the protagonist, who the antagonist?
2. What do the narrator’s stereotypes about the blind and other people reveal about him?
What does his tone/voice reveal about his character? What emotions does he display, and what role does alcohol and pot play in his life?
3. How is Robert characterized? In what ways do Robert and the narrator’s wife differ from the narrator? What is it about Robert that unsettles the narrator?
4. Why is the narrator’s wife attracted to Robert?
5. What is the narrator’s attitude toward his wife? What kind of marriage do they have?
6. What is the blind man’s motive for encouraging the narrator to draw a cathedral?
7. When the narrator and Robert draw the cathedral together, the narrator says, “It was like nothing else in my life up to now.” What does he mean? What has he experienced or felt that is new? What exactly does Robert teach the narrator?
8. What is the meaning of the story’s final scene?
9. Contrast the author’s tone and the narrator’s mood at the opening of the story with the tone and mood at the end. How does the change in style reflect the change in the narrator? How has the narrator changed from this experience?
10. Contrast the connection between Robert and the narrator with the lack of connection between the narrator and his wife.
11. What does the story have to say about blindness?