The use of alcohol is pervasive in this story. Before anything of major importance happens someone takes a drink. You see this when the wife tries to kill herself, before they listen to the tapes, after they return from the grocery, etc.. The use of alcohol and marijuana lend to the 'dreamy' and 'surreal' state that the story takes on toward the end. It allows the reader to believe that under the influence of marijuana, the narrator is able to draw a cathedral and truly see it's beauty in his mind's eye.