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Cathedral Historical Context

This Study Guide consists of approximately 56 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Cathedral.
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Historical Context

Economic Climate

The characters who people Carver's short stories, including "Cathedral," find themselves in times of diminishing expectations. In 1978, only about 11.7 percent of the United States population was considered "poor" by government standards. The rate had steadily fallen since 1960. However, in the decade beginning in 1978, poverty once again increased. Further, in the early years of the Reagan administration, high inflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment reflected the recession that slowed American economic hopes. The unemployment rate in 1982, for example, was 10.8 percent. Ironically, the wealthy became wealthier during this period, while the gap between rich and poor steadily widened.

Even more disturbing, during this period those workers who were employed often earned wages that were not sufficient to raise them out of the poverty level. These people became known as "the working poor." In 1988, 40 percent of all poor people worked without raising themselves above the poverty line. Consequently...

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This section contains 631 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Cathedral Study Guide
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Cathedral from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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