Death Comes for the Archbishop

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DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP Notes including • • • • • • •

Life and Background of the Author Introduction to the Novel Critical Commentaries Character Analyses Critical Essays Essay Topics and Review Questions Selected Bibliography

by Mildred Bennett Author of The World of Willa Cather

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA 68501 1-800-228-4078 ISBN 0-8220-7265-3 © Copyright 1965 by Cliffs Notes, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


LIFE AND BACKGROUND OF THE AUTHOR Willa Cather, born near Winchester, Virginia, December 7, 1873, moved to Webster County, Nebraska, in 1883. In 1890, she entered the preparatory school at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and graduated in 1895. During her student days, she wrote stories, poems, plays, and drama and music criticism. She continued both journalistic work and fiction writing, taking in 1896 the position of managing editor of the Home Monthly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1897, she changed to newspaper work on the Pittsburgh Daily Leader, and, in 1901, began teaching English in one of the Pittsburgh high schools. In 1903, her first book of poems, April Twilights, was published; in 1905, her first book of short stories, The Troll Garden. She joined the staff at McClure's Magazine in 1906, remaining with them until 1912, the year her first novel, Alexander's Bridge, was published. In 1913, 0 Pioneers! placed her in the first rank of novelists. Published in 1927, Death Comes for the Archbishop, her ninth novel, has won much praise. Willa Cather died April 24, 1947, author of twelve novels, many short stories and essays; winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Prix Femina Américain; a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, recipient of the gold medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Her work, much prized abroad, has been translated into more than fifteen languages and is used as a text here and abroad.

INTRODUCTION TO THE NOVEL After the publication of Death Comes for the Archbishop, many people wrote Willa Cather and inquired how she happened to write the book. She was in Red Cloud that winter of 1927, and when the mail became overwhelming, she wrote an open letter to the editor of The Commonweal, telling him of how when she first went to the Southwest, she had to travel by wagon and camp out. She met a Belgian priest, Father Haltermann, who raised poultry, sheep, vegetables, and flowers. He knew many stories of the country, the traditions, the Indians. More and more impressed that the story of the Southwest was the story of the Catholic Church in that country, Cather believed the account should be written by a Catholic. Time passed. As she returned to the Southwest, she came to feel that Archbishop Lamy was a personal friend, and she wanted to learn more about him. She appreciated the beauty and originality of the small churches, decorated with native art. One day she found the book The Life of the Right Reverend Joseph P. Machebeuf by William Joseph Howlett. From that account, she determined the daily reactions and the spirit of the two French missionary priests. Intermingling history with her own experiences, she wrote the book, consulting her Red Cloud friend, Father Fitzgerald, for detail. She wrote in the style of the Golden Legend, wherein the mood, not the situation, counts. The title of the book came from Holbein's Dance of Death. For the most part, Cather sticks to actual history, but when art can be served better, she changes time factors. For example, the village of Pecos was dead before the time of the story, and in fact Father Lamy died before Father Machebeuf. Willa Cather first visited the Southwest in 1912, when she went to stay with her brother, Douglas, who was working for the railroad in Winslow, Arizona. In a sense, the country was already part of her dreams. In 1909, she had written "The Enchanted Bluff," a story of a mesa in New Mexico where the inhabitants

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

2 had starved on top their tableland. She used the Southwest in The Song of the Lark and in The Professor's House, with appreciation for the cliff dwellers and the ancient ways. In Death Comes for the Archbishop, the ancient and the new mingle within the Catholic tradition, which itself holds both the ancient and the modern. When Cather speaks of the Golden Legend, she gives the clue to this book. An historic tapestry, the background --no matter what color--is suffused with gold, yellow, copper, or bronze. In actual color, this is a Golden Legend.

CRITICAL COMMENTARIES PROLOGUE Summary A Spanish-English Cardinal, two other Cardinals, one French and one Italian, and a French Missionary Bishop from America dine in a hidden garden on the side of a mountain. The missionary Bishop wants a Bishop appointed for the New Mexico vicarate, in territory newly annexed by the United States. He names Jean Marie Latour, now serving in Canada. The missionary priest tries to explain the problems of the New Mexico vicarate. The church has survived three hundred years of neglect. The Bishop of Durango, who supposedly guides affairs, lives fifteen hundred miles away, over rough, difficult terrain. The new man must be young, intelligent, vigorous, and ready for martyrdom. The Spanish Cardinal asks if the new man is artistic and tells how an American missionary, a beggar as they all are, had persuaded his grandfather to give him an El Greco for his mission. The Spanish Cardinal wants to find it again, but his efforts so far have failed. The American Bishop does not share concern for the painting. Having lived too long in the New World, he has even lost his taste for wine and for the fine Old World manners. For their part, the other priests are bored by the Bishop's insistence on his problems. Commentary The nationalities represented in the priests will also be found in the New World, with Rome standing for Italy. The scene of the priests dining in an airy bird-like place watching the night come on will be repeated in varied form throughout the book. The reader should contrast the leisure and detachment of the Europeans with the haste and earnest impatience of the missionary Bishop. The Europeans think of art, music, food and comfort; the American priest (though of European origin) eats rapidly, without even savoring the wine. Prophetic of what will happen to those who go to missions in the New World is the suggestion that the country will drink up their youth like rain. The predominant color of this book is some form of yellow: gold, copper, blonde, bronze, and other tints of yellow. In this opening scene, although the men are in Rome, the colors are bluish gray with a flash of copper light. The light has motion, action, climax. Even the foliage turns to gold in the afternoon light, though there may be blue, violet, russet, and rose.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


BOOK 1--THE VICAR APOSTOLIC Summary CHAPTER 1. THE CRUCIFORM TREE Having lost his way, Bishop Latour travels through red sandhills, topped with yellow-green junipers. He and his animals have no water and suffer from great thirst. He closes his eyes, and when he opens them, he sees a juniper in the form of a cross. He stops, makes his devotions, rises refreshed. The reader sees him as "brave, sensitive, courteous." In his great need for water, he identifies with Christ's cry on the cross, "I thirst." He thinks perhaps this is the end of his life and blames himself for the suffering of his animals. He has been preoccupied with how to gain back his vicarate. Three years have elapsed since the meeting of the four men in Rome, and the Bishop has not yet taken over his vicarate. His worldly possessions, except his books, were lost in a ship wreck in Galveston harbor. On the trip west, he injured his leg in a wagon accident and was delayed three months. A year after leaving Mississippi, Bishop Latour and Father Vaillant rode in a wagon train into Santa Fé but the people would not accept the new Bishop without confirmation from the Bishop of Durango. Father Latour is now returning from the nearly three thousand mile round trip to Mexico and is lost on the trail. Suddenly the attitude of the animals changes. They smell water. Soon they come upon a stream between the red hills, a small Catholic settlement that cannot believe a priest has really come. CHAPTER 2. HIDDEN WATER At Hidden Water, Father Latour finds friendly people who want the solace of the church. They are afraid the new American government will take away their religion. As they are simple folk and cannot grasp new ideas, Father Latour cannot reassure them. The priest likes the wooden saints, carved and dressed in Mexican style. A young boy tells the priest that Santiago is the saint of horses, a New World fact that the European does not know. Father Latour, content in his feather bed, thinks how Father Joseph would call his finding this settlement a miracle. The priest concedes that it is a miracle, but with nature, not against it as Father Joseph would contend. Next day, Father Latour performs the marriages and christenings and other religious rites and attends the following feast. He then goes for a walk, watches and muses over the antics of the tame goats, and finds the water head which has been a refuge for humanity longer than history. From the hidden waters, he finds strength. He sees Hidden Water as a miniature of his vicarate and feels confident to tackle the trouble at Santa Fé and the rebellion of Father Martínez at Taos. CHAPTER 3. THE BISHOP CHEZ LUI When Father Latour returns, he finds that Father Joseph has won the confidence of the people, has persuaded the incumbent Mexican priest to go to Mexico, has moved into the priest's house, and has begun to create order. Nine days after his return, on Christmas Day, Father Latour, from his study in the old adobe house, writes home. The room, hand plastered, whitewashed, has cedar ceiling beams and an earth floor covered by Indian blankets. Two old and precious blankets hang on the wall like tapestries. The heavy furniture is hand hewn as there are no saw mills in that area. Father Latour's desk, a walnut one, has been sent by an American officer. His silver candlesticks add the European note. The Bishop writes his brother of how he must be a business man all day, how he will help the Mexicans become good

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

4 American citizens--it is for their own good--and how Joseph is cooking dinner. The two men will be happy, though exiles from France. Father Joseph announces dinner. At this point, Cather tells how ugly he is, and how loveable. Through him, Santa Fé has become reconciled to the new priests. Father Joseph has made onion soup with a thousand years of history in it. He talks of planting gardens so he may have fresh vegetables. He remembers his garden in Ohio and remarks that this is far enough to wander, and asks Father Latour to promise not to make him go farther. Father Latour wonders how far this is--he hasn't any notion of how great the diocese, and neither do the soldiers at the fort. He will ask Kit Carson. As they are talking over memories in French (they usually speak English or Spanish for practice), they hear rifle shots. CHAPTER 4. A BELL AND A MIRACLE A flashback tells of the first morning after his trip to Durango when the Bishop awakens to the ringing of the Angelus, making him first dream of Rome, then of the East. He can scarcely believe his ears. Father Joseph says the bell, of Spanish origin, dates from 1356. Legend says it was pledged to St. Joseph in the Moorish wars and that it contains silver, gold, and some baser metals. Father Latour thinks the Moorish element accounts for the feeling of the East he has heard in the tones. Father Joseph, practical, does not like Father Latour to bring in the Moors. He changes the subject and asks Father Latour to listen to a Mexican priest who has just been to the Shrine of Guadalupe. In 1531, a poor Mexican, Juan Diego, was hurrying into Mexico City to attend mass when he met in his path the Virgin in blue and gold. She asked him to find the Bishop and tell him to build her a church on that spot. She would await Juan's return. When Juan told the Bishop, he met with disbelief. Discouraged, Juan went to his sick uncle and cared for him. After a few days, Juan had to go back to his monastery to get medicine, but he went another way, not the way where the Virgin had said she would wait. But the Virgin appeared again and asked him why he avoided Her. He told his story and she said that his uncle would be well, and that he should go again with her request to the Bishop. Juan wanted a sign and she told him to go up on the rock and gather roses. Although it was December and no roses should bloom, he found wonderful flowers. The Virgin arranged them in his tilma (mantle) and told him to open the mantle before the Bishop. When he did, the roses fell out, and the Bishop and his Vicar fell on their knees; in the mantle was a painting of the Blessed Virgin in blue and rose and gold. Forthwith the church was built. The native priest praises the picture, saying it is still rich and delicate and colorful. After the priest has gone, Father Joseph talks about what a blessing such a miracle is for the poor. Such a miracle can be held and loved. Father Latour says that love produces miracles, that our affection makes us able to see things and hear things that are always present, but that without love we do not recognize them.

Commentary Cather has much feeling for and interest in antiquity. In this section, Father Latour's thoughts about Angora goats go back to the Bible and the lamb, and the paganism that goats have always represented. At the hidden spring, he thinks back before known history and compares this water refuge with those where ancients put up images of the river goddess in Italy. The two priests eat an onion soup with 1000 years of history behind it. The Spanish bell dates from 1356, and the legend of the Virgin of Guadalupe from 1531. Bell ringing came from the Moslems. The people at Hidden Spring beat out grain like the children of Israel.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

5 Father Latour is Bishop of an historic See. When he "was consecrated Vicar Apostolic of New Mexico and Bishop of Agathonica in partibus," he received the authority of a Bishop to fulfill the duties that would come with the New Mexico mission, which was not yet organized. Agathon or Agathonica may have been on the Black Sea. As Bishop of a See no longer in existence, Father Latour has no responsibility toward Agathon, but full power to act in New Mexico. The two priests complement each other: Joseph, ugly, practical, loveable, intuitive, believes in miracles. Latour, handsome, reserved, sensitive, scholarly, believes in the laws of nature. Father Joseph wants miracles that go contrary to nature; he is moved to strong emotions. Father Latour thinks miracles are the result of natural law; his reactions are reserved. Father Joseph worries about order at home, in the house, in Santa Fé. He figures out a way to make a good meal in spite of having little; he takes care of the practical problems like the drunken natives who have desecrated the church. Father Latour dreams about the extent of the diocese. He ponders the broad problems: the country itself, the simplicity and ignorance of the people, the corruption and disintegration of the clergy. Both agree that the work of the church includes gardens, vineyards, and good citizenship, as well as instruction in spiritual affairs. In the prologue, the reader sees the difference between the vigor and drive of the missionary priest and the sophistication and boredom of the Old World. In the two men these attitudes are transformed and modified into Father Latour's scholarly appraisal and Father Joseph's vehement "Rest in action." This modification and reorientation of motif will be used throughout the book to bring a unity of mood and an emphasis of idea. Some figures of speech are: Father Latour wanders in a "geometrical nightmare . . . a desert of ovens." Father Martínez has "shoulders like a buffalo." The pinon logs make an odor of incense--the fragrance of daily work. The goats "leaped the stream like arrows speeding from the bow." The sand is a thirsty sea; the sun pours its light; the evening star hangs and seems "to bathe in her own silver light." Father Joseph coaxes the cork from a bottle. The notes from the Angelus float "through the air like a globe of silver." Father Latour writes home on Christmas Day. Later in the book, the section "December Night" will give a different mood--this motif changed after years of service first to depression, then to exaltation. Father Latour first approaches Santa Fé at sunset. He will make his last trip into the Villa at the same time. At Agua Secreta, the red rounded hills with yellow-green junipers surround the spring and the ribbon of green. Father Latour in the monotonous red hills suffers both from thirst and the sameness of things. He confronts a green tree in the shape of a cross--except the tree is bare, save for a tuft of green. There is now no golden glow over the life which presents itself. Father Latour's thirst symbolizes his thirst for human companionship, the thirst of the people for the consolation of the Church. The sameness of the landscape symbolizes the boredom--the monotony of the diet, the people, the problems. The cruciform tree gives meaning to the desert; it represents the value of service. Water in earlier Cather writings symbolizes death and passion. In this book, the emphasis is on life and service. Father Latour cries with his Master, "I thirst." He finds a hidden stream: "It rose miraculously out of the parched and thirsty sea of sand. Some subterranean stream found an outlet here, was released from darkness. The result was grass." Later, Father Latour will hear a subterranean river which does not rise, which does not give life, which gives only a sense of terror and power. The implication is that passion

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

6 must rise above the physical (death-darkness) to produce fruitful harvest. Symbolic and prophetic is Father Latour's question when Father Joseph wants a promise they will go no farther: "Who knows how far?"

BOOK 2--MISSIONARY JOURNEYS Summary CHAPTER 1. THE WHITE MULES Father Vaillant, returning from Albuquerque, thinks of the suspicion of the people at Santo Domingo, who will come to hear him but will not allow their children to be baptized. The Spanish have mistreated them long ago, and they do not forget. Father Joseph thinks of his wind-broken horse, sold him by a Yankee trader. He comes to the Lujon Ranch, like a beautiful little town. He commands Lujon to bring the men from the fields so that they can be married. The children can be baptized next day. Lujon sees no need of hurry but does as the priest asks. The old women servants gossip about how ugly the priest is, how bad the times are. Father Joseph insists on cooking his own leg of lamb. The Mexicans are horrified by his eating rare meat. At the table, they discuss Father Joseph's useless horse. The priest says he won't trade at Santo Domingo because they are suspicious of him. Father Gallegos in Albuquerque is a rich gambler, and Father Joseph has told him he does not think the priests should make a profit off the people. Manuel Lujon laughs at the father's frankness. He has hoped that Father Joseph played cards but settles for dominoes and grape brandy. The next morning, Father Joseph sees Lujon's pair of white mules, who look at him like Christians. The men talk of Father Joseph's poor horse. Finally Lujon gives the priest Contento, one of the cream-colored mules. Father Joseph cries out in delight, but the next morning he is sad because he can't take the gift. His Vicar rides a horse as bad as Father Joseph's, and the lesser priest can't appear with a better mount than his superior. In the end, Lujon gives both mules, and although he feels he has been tricked into it, he isn't sorry. CHAPTER 2. THE LONELY ROAD TO MORA Father Joseph and Father Latour are on the third day out toward Mora. Rain and cold make the journey difficult, and they hope to find shelter for the night before going on to Mora, where they will plan for refugees from an Indian massacre. They find a poor house and ask to spend the night. The man, American, appears repulsive and evil but says they may stay. His Mexican wife seems half-witted, but before she follows her husband to the stable, she pantomimes that they will be murdered if they stay. The priests have to demand their mules at gun point, but they travel on. They reach Mora after midnight. Next morning, a boy reports that a crazy woman in the stable wants to see the two priests with the white mules. It is Magdalena, the wife of Buck Scales, and she has run away. She begins to tell her story to Father Latour, but he stops her and sends for a notary. Meanwhile, he asks the women to help Magdalena. Cleaned and refreshed, she tells that she married Scales six years before. He has murdered four travelers and the three children she has born him. After he killed the first child, she ran home to her parents, but he threatened harm to them and she returned, too afraid to leave him. She wants only to save her soul and die. A friend of the notary confirms that she is Magdalena Valdez.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

7 The authorities find Buck Scales on his way to Taos to get his wife and jail him at Mora. Magdalena fears to stay near him, and Father Latour shares that fear. He and the notary stand armed guard over her all night. Kit Carson comes and offers her refuge. Father Latour is surprised to find Carson a slight man but likes him immediately. They become lifelong friends. On the way back to Taos, Carson tells Father Latour how he feels about becoming a Catholic. When he was sick in California, the priests took care of him, and although the native priests in New Mexico are disreputable, Carson sees there is something in the religion after all. At that time, Carson cannot read or write, but be knows more geography of the West than anyone. He takes Magdalena home. Investigators find the bodies of the murdered people and Buck Scales is hanged. When the Bishop comes back from a trip to St. Louis, he brings five Sisters of Loretto to found a girls' school. Magdalena works for them, and regains her beauty and serenity.

Commentary This section points out the problems that the priests have to meet. The ancient prejudice among the Indians of Santo Domingo stems from Spanish injustice. Father Joseph's purchase of a feeble horse results from Yankee greed. Indians have massacred near Mora; Buck Scales represents the degenerate criminal. Carson's faith has suffered because of non-celibate and miserly priests. Even the weather turns unfavorable, and the food does not tempt the palate of the Frenchmen. To balance this picture, Manuel Lujon gives his white mules (reluctantly), and Magdalena risks her life to save the priests. Kit Carson befriends the girl. Father Joseph can enjoy dominoes and Lujon's grape brandy. Father Latour, although pictured as reserved and contemplative, does not fail to appreciate Magdalena's terror. He sees that she is cleaned, fed, and clothed, and then watched over until safe at Kit Carson's home. Father Vaillant exhibits his technique of obtaining gifts for the cause by his refusing to accept only one mule, thereby getting both. In the prologue, the Cardinal María de Allande sees Indians through the eyes of James Fenimore Cooper. Father Joseph's sister sees him and the Bishop through the pictures of Xavier. This is the European way of understanding Americans. An example of Cather's art in setting a mood can be found in the priests' approach to the home of Buck Scales. The raindrops are in the shape of tadpoles, thinks Father Latour, and they are hollow and full of air. The ridges of the mountains are horny backbones. The white mules have turned to a slaty color and the faces of the priests are purple. The rain turns to sleet; they hear the "rattle of icy flakes." All these figures pointing to something reptilian prepare the reader for Buck Scales with his "repellent head . . . thick ridges" of his skull and his "rudimentary ears." He has a "malignant look." "His head played from side to side exactly like a snake's." In regard to the colors used in this section, one should note the bright blue doors and blue posts of Manuel Lujon's house, the red peppers, the black-haired children, but the mules were cream colored, fawn colored, the color of pearls. In the Mora chapter, the colors are gray, black, purple, slaty, and cold green.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


BOOK 3--THE MASS AT ÁCOMA Summary CHAPTER 1. THE WOODEN PARROT For the first year after coming to Santa Fé, the Bishop has been traveling on business that takes him away from his diocese. Now he wants to learn about his own people. With a young Indian guide, Jacinto, he goes to visit the Indian missions. His first stop is Albuquerque, where Father Gallegos, a pleasure-loving, hospitable priest entertains them. Father Latour and Father Vaillant have discussed the scandalous situation of Father Gallegos and mean to do something about it before Christmas, but on this visit Father Latour says nothing, except to remark on the fact that there is no confirmation class. Father Gallegos says he confirms them in infancy. He also says that the people of Ácoma are heathen and gives no satisfactory account of when he has last said Mass there. Just to be sure that Father Latour does not ask him to go on the next lap of his journey, Father Gallegos, although he has danced all night, turns up with a foot bandaged for an attack of gout. Father Latour has had no intention of asking for the other man's company. The next stop at Isleta brings Father Latour to the home of Father Jesus de Baca, whom Father Joseph already knows and recommends. The old priest loves parrots because the cultivation of them and the possession of their feathers endear him to the parish. The only decoration in his house is a wooden parrot, probably over a hundred years old, carved as a portrait of some cherished bird brought up from Mexico. The whole village of Isleta gleams with whitewash. About Father Jesus is a "quality of golden goodness." He gives a good report of the people of Laguna and Ácoma, tells of a miracle-working portrait of St. Joseph that the pueblo at Ácoma has, a gift of one of the kings of Spain. CHAPTER 2. JACINTO En route to Laguna, Father Latour and Jacinto travel through desert country, cold, sandy and inhospitable. Laguna, named for the Blue Lake at its feet, lies in petrified yellow sand dunes. The people, forewarned by Father Jesus of the coming of the Bishop, welcome Father Latour, who holds Mass and baptizes the children. Father Latour wants to camp in the rock dunes, and Jacinto prepares the place. He likes the Bishop because he does not condescend to the Indians. He presents one face to all people. While the two watch the sunset and the western sky, they talk of the evening star, of the small star beside it that is the guide, and what stars might be. Father Latour does not question Jacinto's beliefs. He thinks Jacinto has a long tradition which could not be translated to a European. The men end the evening in mutual prayer and mutual respect. CHAPTER 3. THE ROCK The next morning, they start off across the flat sand, out of which rise rock mesas, each with its accompanying cloud formation. The country seems still waiting to be made into a landscape. Finally they see two mesas, the far one Ácoma. Jacinto tells the priest of the Enchanted Mesa. The Bishop thinks of what the rock means to humanity, of what the Indians have done to find security on a rock. On the trail to the top of Ácoma Mesa, the men are caught in a rain storm but stand under a dry ledge and are protected. The Bishop celebrates Mass in the old Ácoma church, but he feels as though he is ministering to antediluvian creatures under the sea. After Mass, he examines the church and wonders how and why it was built so expansively. Everything, even the portage of huge timbers, had to be done by hand. The only growth on the mesa is two half-dead peach trees and some offshoots of old vines. On the way back to

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

9 Santa Fé, the Bishop hears a story from Father Jesus. CHAPTER 4. THE LEGEND OF FRAY BALTAZAR Friar Baltazar Montoya was a priest at Ácoma. He loved food and insisted that the Indians tend his gardens and carry up water and fresh earth so that he might grow whatever he wanted. Food was his only sensuality, and no effort was too great to obtain new seeds, new cuttings, or some different meat. The Indians put up with him because he had a painting which supposedly brought rain, and they were not sure how great his magic was. This was in the early 1700s. One summer, the Friar decided to invite four priests from neighboring missions to dine with him. An excellent cook, he had many favorite recipes and spent much time planning and preparing the food. But when the boy came with the hare in sauce, he spilled sauce on one of the visitors. In a fit of drunken anger, Friar Baltazar threw a mug at him and killed him. The other priests disappeared, but Baltazar sat there, deserted. When night came, the Indians threw him over the cliff. They bore him no grudge; when a new priest came, they accepted him.

Commentary Characteristically, Cather uses seasons as a background for action. Father Latour returns in September, starts west in golden October. The colors for this part of the book are gold and white. Father Jesus' pueblo is white, the church is white, the house is white, and about the priest there is "a quality of golden goodness." Even the carved parrot, although thinly painted, has "whiteness." The sand dunes and rocks are yellow as ochre; the mountain is Snow-Bird mountain; "The whole western sky was the colour of golden ashes." The rabbit brush has bloom "yellow as gorse or orange like marigolds." The datura has big white blossoms. White Ácoma gleams with brightness. To contrast with the white churches and the golden country, Cather describes the red "sea of sand," the blue sky and the lake, the blue-green acacias, the wild pumpkin like gray-green lizards. The colors symbolize white for purity, gold for devotion and love, gray for ancient implacable beliefs. The people of Ácoma are characterized by the gray church, the gray floor, the gray light, and the gray walls. Father Latour watches the light die away from the mesa tops "like candles going out." The civilization on the Ácoma rock hasn't changed, it is reptilian and immobile. Cather prepares the reader for this by her description of the wild pumpkin: "The whole rigid, up-thrust matted clump looks less like a plant than like a great colony of grey-green lizards, moving and suddenly arrested by fear." The mingling of the old and new shows in the introduction of the ancient parrot, in Jacinto's remark about Indian names, and his shame at having spoken to the priest in this way because the priest accepts without question the ancient background of the Indian. In the church at Isleta there are paintings of the gods of nature in crimson, blue, and dark green. The rock, symbol of security, will be explored later in Cather's novel Shadows on the Rock. To the Indians, the rock was not a symbol. They lived on it, but they became rock turtles. Too secure a life could be stifling. The story of Friar Baltazar is a typical Cather device to give depth and variety to her work. It is also a repetition of a motif. In the Prologue, priests dine in an airy garden on a shelf of rock. They are preoccupied with food, music, things of this life. Baltazar and his guests also dine in an airy birdcage, thinking of the good things of life. In Baltazar's case, he goes too far and accidentally kills a boy, and justice in the New World acts swiftly, yet Baltazar differs very little from those men dining above Rome.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

10 In the first scene, the men watch the stars come out. In an intermediate scene where Father Latour spends the night in the loggia (before he has heard the legend of Friar Baltazar), he watches the night come and the lights on the mesas disappear like "candles going out." Friar Baltazar had dreaded the coming of night and had "wished he could keep the moon from coming up through the floor of the desert." Such repetition of motif and idea in different keys forms much of Cather's art. In this section, one finds Cather themes related to other of her writings. Her reference to the Enchanted Mesa reminds one of a story "The Enchanted Bluff," written about twenty years earlier. Of New Mexico she says, "The country was still waiting to be made into a landscape." In My Ántonia, she says of Nebraska, it was "not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made." Jacinto cannot communicate his past to Father Latour, and in My Ántonia, Cather speaks of the precious incommunicable past. Some figures of speech are: "clouds . . . like ink spots spreading in a brilliant sky"; and "He watched with horror for that golden rim [moon] against the deep blue velvet of the night."

BOOK 4--SNAKE ROOT Summary CHAPTER 1. THE NIGHT AT PECOS One month after the Bishop's visit, Father Gallegos is suspended and Father Vaillant takes over, changing revelry to devotion. In February, Father Joseph goes to Las Vegas and does not return. A messenger comes to tell that the padre has been helping in a village where black measles has broken out and has fallen ill of the disease. The Bishop packs at once to go. He takes the army mule, picks up Jacinto at Pecos. There the Indians advise against going on because a wind storm threatens. The Bishop paces, blames himself for working Father Joseph too hard, worries that he will die, and remembers other times when Father Joseph has barely cheated death. Father Latour decides to sleep in the sacristy of the old ruined church. Jacinto calls him to supper. During the meal of meat, beans, and cornbread, the baby cries. It is sick; babies die in this village. Few children are born and the tribe is dying out. The Indians will not listen to medical advice. Dark legends say that the Indians serve a secret fire that drains their virility that they sacrifice their babies to a sacred snake. Father Latour thinks it more likely that disease has depleted them. As the storm nears, a black wind blows out of the cloud, like the wind out of a remote black past. Only the baby's sickly voice rises against it. The Bishop goes to the ruined church, which still braves the storm and lets in the starlight. CHAPTER 2. STONE LIPS The Bishop wakens early, cold and cramped, and says his prayers. He rouses Jacinto, who makes a fire and goes for the mules while the Bishop makes coffee. By four in the morning, they start, but a storm is in the air. They do not pause at noon. The air fills with snow; a blizzard closes on them. Jacinto knows a place nearby. They leave the mules and struggle for an hour in the snow, finally coming to a mouth-like opening in the rocks. They climb into this glacial, evil-smelling cave. While the Bishop looks around, Jacinto examines the floor and walls. He moves the wood from where a fire has been but does not start a fire; instead, he falls into reflection. He tells Father Latour that this is a secret ceremonial place and the Bishop must forget about it. Father Latour promises to do so and asks for a fire. The place depresses him. Jacinto takes stones and plasters up a hole in the wall, then builds a fire which seems to purify the air.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

11 Father Latour keeps hearing a noise like dizziness, or a hive of bees. At his question, Jacinto smiles and beckons the priest into a tunnel, opens a crack in the floor, and lets the priest listen to an underground river, an awe-inspiring sound. To the Bishop's regret, daylight fades. They eat bread and drink coffee. Jacinto thinks them lucky to have this and asks the priest if he was scared. Father Latour says he hadn't time to be, and Jacinto admits he hasn't expected to get out alive. The priest reads his breviary by the light of the fire. He resolves to waken later and examine the hole that Jacinto has plastered over. But when he wakens, Jacinto is stretched against the wall listening at the plastered place. Next morning, they drop into a white world. Jacinto says it is not worthwhile to look for the mules. They flounder to a cabin, rent animals, go on, and arrive by starlight to find Father Vaillant better. Kit Carson has stopped to help. Father Latour takes Father Joseph back to Santa Fé. Father Latour does not tell anyone of Jacinto's cave, but he wonders with revulsion about it. He believes white men can never understand Indian beliefs. He questions Orchard as to who knows more about Indians than anyone else. Orchard says they keep a fire burning in their own village, and he doesn't know about the snake story, but he thinks they keep some varmint in the mountains. As a boy, he had tried to find out. After Father Latour admires the Indians' love for old customs, Orchard says he may convert them, but he won't change their old beliefs. He tells of a girl who thought her baby was to be fed to the snake.

Commentary Cather has hinted at antediluvian, reptilian background earlier, first with the approach to the Buck Scales story, then with the people of Ácoma. Here the worship of the snake or something terrible and repulsive is suggested. A dark wind blows out of the past. Father Latour, engulfed in it, does not know what it means, only that it is horrible. Willa Cather, however, does not judge the Indian belief. Father Latour lets the Indians have their own privacy; he respects their secret. The ancient religion, as opposed to the Catholic, is affiliated with death. Notice the colors emphasizing the Indians' dark customs. Black measles are the cause of the trip; black clouds make him stay overnight in Pecos. The wind out of the black cloud is like a message of a remote, black past. Pecos has dark legends. The pueblo is dead, Jacinto's baby is dying. In contrast to this, the ruined church "still braved the storm and let in the starlight." The gray cave symbolizes the religion of death. The fire extinguishes the odor of decay. Out of the gray cave, they drop into a white, purified world. As mentioned earlier, water in Cather's writings symbolizes passion and death. In the scene at Hidden Springs, the reader saw an underground river which rose to give life. In the cave, the power, passion, and life-giving force does not rise, but remains secret and terrible. This is another example of Cather's repetition of a motif, in a different mood key. Father Latour's admiration for the Indian's love of tradition reflects Cather's personal feeling both for the Indians and the Catholic religion. Of all Cather heroes and heroines, one might say what Orchard said of the Indians: "The things they value most are worth nothing to us."

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


BOOK 5--PADRE MARTÍNEZ Summary CHAPTER 1. THE OLD ORDER Bishop Latour and Jacinto go to Taos to visit Padre Martínez, who holds a dictator's power over the native priests of New Mexico. Kit Carson has informed Father Latour about Martínez, his power, his hostility. Martínez has probably been implicated in the Bent massacre. Through deceit, he had acquired the land of the seven Indians who were hanged for the rebellion. A man of great physical force and will, Martínez reminds one of a bull buffalo, violent, passionate. Father Latour knows that having seen him once, he will know him again. Martínez comes riding out to meet the new Bishop, leading a cavalcade of horsemen. The two ride into town together. At Ranchos de Taos, the women throw down shawls for the Bishop to walk on; they kiss his ring. Although Father Latour does not like the exuberance, he knows that for the Mexican, religion must be theatrical. The party rides into Taos, where a boy at the priest's house does not take off his cap. Father Martínez punishes him, at which Father Latour protests, but the native priest says the boy is his son and will do as he likes with him. Inside the house, another young man sleeps on the floor. Martínez kicks him in the ribs and routes him, identifying him as his student, Trinidad, a nephew of Father Lucero at Arroyo Hondo. The disorder in Martínez' house annoys Bishop Latour. Dust and cats cover everything. When Trinidad again appears, Father Latour notes how sensual and stupid he appears. At supper, Martínez asks Father Latour about celibacy, and the latter says it was all decided years ago. Martinez wants to argue and says a priest must know sin to understand it in order to rise to a state of grace. Father Latour says they must talk it over, but the priests in his diocese will be celibate. Martínez laughs at him, adding that he will have his own church if Father Latour tries to take it away from him. He advises the new priest to keep his hands off or he will die an early death. Trinidad goes out and Father Latour reproves Martínez for loose talk and also criticizes the caliber of the young man. Martínez laughs, showing his vulgar yellow teeth. He says Trinidad will be curate to his uncle and can be very devout when he likes. Father Latour doesn't like the atmosphere of the house, with giggling women and the snores of Martínez. When the Bishop gets up to close Martínez' door, he finds a bunch of a woman's discarded hair combings in the corner, the final touch for his disgust. At High Mass the next morning, Father Latour is pleased with the church, the well-kept appointments. Father Martínez sings Mass beautifully, and Father Latour feels his magnetic power. After the services, Martínez takes the Bishop to see his farms and livestock, which he acquired from the hanged Indians. He boasts that trouble in New Mexico always starts in Taos. They see a communal pueblo; a religious silence hangs over the place. Behind is Taos mountain, with its sculptured geometric designs. The Padre says that it conceals Pope's estufa, where he planned the revolt of 1680, when all Europeans were killed or driven out of that area. Martínez was born under Taos mountain, in Abiquiu, a somber, solitary settlement. Martínez grew up without learning to read or write, married, and lost a wife and child. After marriage, he had learned to read, and when left a widower, he entered the priesthood and studied in Old Mexico. He made up for his late start and became well versed in the Church Fathers, in Latin and Spanish classics. He returned to his

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

13 own village and later became priest at Taos. He hates Americans, who threaten his power and his way of life. On leaving Taos, Father Latour visits Kit Carson's home to thank Mrs. Carson for her kindness to Magdalena, and to report on her new happiness. Although Mrs. Carson is an uneducated Mexican housewife, she is genuine and the Bishop admires her. She knows at once how he has felt in the Martínez house. She tells him that Trinidad is probably Martínez' son, that he tried to have himself crucified, using ropes, during Passion Week, but he was so heavy the cross fell over and he was humiliated. Then he wanted himself whipped, but before a hundred lashes, he had fainted. They used cactus whips and his back was poisoned. He was sick there a long time, so this year they asked him not to return. Father Latour asks her if she thinks he could stop the penitentes, but she says not to try. The old people need their old customs, the young ones will learn better. She gives him beautiful lace for Magdalena. Back in Santa Fé, Father Vaillant waits. They discuss the fact that Father Latour's work has been noted by Rome, the vicarate of Santa Fé has been raised to a diocese, and Father Latour is requested to come to Rome. But Father Vaillant wants to hear about Taos. Father Latour says he won't change anything at the moment. Vaillant protests that Martínez' conduct is scandalous. He has debauched a pious girl rescued from the Indians. The Bishop has heard the story, but he says Martínez is getting too old for such things, and there is no strong man to put in Taos. They should not lose the people through punishing the priest. Father Vaillant will stay at Santa Fé while the Bishop visits Europe. Father Latour hopes to bring back some French priests to help, and thereby, to keep Father Joseph in Santa Fé. Father Joseph says that just as soon as he has people liking him, he has to move on. CHAPTER 2. THE MISER In February, Father Latour starts out for Rome and returns after nearly a year with four young French priests and one Spanish father whom he sends to Taos. At the Bishop's request, Martínez resigns but continues to do all the work. Soon he and the new man, Father Taladrid, are in conflict. When Father Latour supports Taladrid, Martínez and Lucero refuse to submit and organize their own church. Most of the people go with the old priests; some pious ones attend both churches. Their mutiny brings Martínez and Lucero into the limelight again. Both love authority. Lucero is a miser, a quality so rare that the Mexicans find it amusing. Although the two priests are friends, they quarrel and talk about each other. Lucero says old age will deny Martínez his pleasure with women, but money is always good and avarice grows sweeter with age. Trinidad, who has learned to eat well with Martínez, starves with Lucero. The quarreling grows so bad that the Bishop sends Father Vaillant over to read a letter which takes away their rights of priesthood. Soon thereafter, Martínez dies and is buried by Lucero. Then Lucero falls sick, but even so, he kills a midnight robber who has heard of Lucero's wealth. After killing the intruder, Lucero does not regain strength and dies repentant, and Father Vaillant gives him the last rites. Trinidad comes for Father Joseph during a heavy rainstorm and insists he go. At the edge of the cliff, Father Vaillant gets off his mule and walks down. Half the people are at Lucero's house, with lighted candles. Lucero, who has always been stingy, now calls for more lights; he fears someone will rob him. Lucero says that Martínez has given him money for masses for Martínez' soul, but Lucero has buried the money. He tells where it is and how it is to be used. Of Lucero's money, one third goes to Trinidad, the rest for masses. Then he wants the money taken up from under the floor while his body is still warm. Kit Carson is to count it. He berates Trinidad for not bringing Carson.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


Father Vaillant tells him he must compose himself or he can't receive the Sacrament. After the last rites, Lucero is calm. The rain and wind continue. In his last moments, Lucero thinks another thief has come. His last words pertain to Martínez; the people think he sees Martínez in torment. When they take up the floor and get the money, they find all kinds of gold and silver coins, almost $20,000.00.

Commentary The reader should note the use of the two colors yellow and gold in this section. Father Martínez has brilliant yellow eyes, long vulgar yellow teeth. His house is full of fat yellow cats who eat from his plate. He wears buckskin breeches, with a black cape, and he rides a black gelding. He goes back to his own village liking the "flavour of his own yellow earth." Taos has yellow walls. On the other hand, the Indian pueblo has a gold color, the men are golden colored, and the goats come home in a cloud of golden dust. Cather's implication of value seems clear. Martínez is compared to a "bull buffalo"; he snores "like an enraged bull." But his sensual nature grows old and impotent like the age which is closing with the advent of the new French priests. The disorder and lack of discipline of the life of Father Martínez are symbolized in the untidy bunch of discarded hair. Father Lucero (whose name means light) lives in darkness and death, and tries to defeat the rain storm and the darkness of death with many candles. Although candles should have a religious significance, for Father Lucero they mean protection from being robbed. Both avarice and sensuality come to the same end: death. Both men have powerful personalities. Under guidance and discipline, they could have been great. Mrs. Kit Carson, introduced to give an unlettered, yet intelligent view, advises that time will take care of the problems. Having just heard of the overly pious acts of Trinidad, the reader is reminded, through Mrs. Carson's gift, of a much more attractive sort of devotion: that of Magdalena. Father Latour does not like the air of the Martínez house. His reaction reminds the reader of how he felt about the air in the Indian ceremonial cave.

BOOK 6--DONA ISABELLA Summary CHAPTER 1. DON ANTONIO Father Latour wants to build a cathedral. In this dream, he is encouraged by Don Antonio Olivares. Olivares' second wife, Dona Isabella, has Europeanized her husband, entertains lavishly, is a devout Catholic, and irritates her in-laws. Quick spirited, vain, gracious, younger than her husband and still beautiful, she inspires gossip. The French priests like to talk with her in their own language. In the Olivares home, they can talk of the outside world and music. Don Antonio, heavy and slow, has lively eyes with a yellow spark and golden brown fingers. He knows the priests well and gives things pleasing to the eye to Father Latour, those pleasing to the taste to Father Vaillant.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


Inez, the Olivares only daughter, visits them and casts a somber spell over the lively house. At a New Year's party, Olivares promises to give enough money so the Bishop can build his cathedral. Attending the party are Kit Carson, his daughter, officers from the post, and Don Manuel Chavez. All are colorfully dressed. Father Vaillant wears a cassock from those sent by his sister's convent. At first Father Latour had frowned on these rich garments, but after he had visited the convent and seen what it meant to the nuns to sew and dream of the New World missions, he has changed his mind. The boy, Pablo, comes in and plays the guitar. Father Latour thinks how each man in the room has become his own story. Carson is the trail breaker. Don Manuel Chavez, who had hunted Navajos when he was a boy, had been in a group all of whom had been killed except himself, who was thought dead. With seven arrow wounds and a shaft through his body, he had traveled to safety. He inherited money, built a magnificent home, is a Martínez man, hates Americans, and has come to the party only out of honor for Dona Isabella. Later that year, Olivares dies, and his brothers rush to get American lawyers to gain his inheritance. CHAPTER 2. THE LADY When the brothers try to break Olivares' will, they say that Isabella isn't old enough to be the mother of Inez. Isabella won't admit her true age. Father Vaillant and Bishop Latour go to see her to persuade her to admit the right age so she and her daughter can use the money until they die, at which time it goes to the church. The gift for the cathedral has not been added to the will. Neglected since his death, Olivares' place lies in disorder, dirt, and indifference. Father Vaillant can get Isabella to admit to forty-two years, no more. She complains that her husband wouldn't let him bully her nor talk business to her. When Bishop Latour tries to reason with her, she says to let the brothers have the money. Father Vaillant reminds her that the Olivares will make her and her daughter beggars. She says she would rather be young and poor than old and rich. Father Joseph tells her that she will be betraying the church. Father Latour quiets him and says they must leave it to Isabella and her own conscience. He reminds her she would have to live on charity from the Olivares, and the priests want her there to entertain them and make life a little cheerful. She stops crying and asks how young she could be and be mother to Inez. O'Reilly, the lawyer, says fifty-two. She agrees to admit to that age in court. Worn out, the priests go home. Father Joseph talks of her vanity, and Father Latour talks of the cruelty of making her admit her age. O'Reilly defeats the Olivares brothers because Madame Olivares admits her age. That night, friends call on the widow. They have a festive evening. The priests, knowing nothing of the impromptu party, call on the brave widow but find music, laughter, drinking. Dona Isabella is singing "Listen to the Mockingbird." Isabella says she won't forgive them for making her tell that awful lie about her age. The priests bow to laughter and applause.

Commentary The color yellow still runs through this section. Dona Isabella is blonde, with hair a little silvered. She has a "tip-tilted canary head." When she refuses to admit her age, her hair is ashen, but when she returns to the gaiety of wine and friends, the yellow curls bob again. Don Antonio has yellow sparks in his eyes; his fingers are golden brown. Pablo (gossip attaches him to his mistress) is a "strange yellow boy." "His seesawing yellow hand" when he plays the banjo is like "a patch of sand-storm." Cather introduces both history and contrast in her insert about Father Vaillant's sister and her nuns

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

16 making vestments. The reader gets New Mexico in France and France in New Mexico. With the history of Chavez, the recent violent and tragic history of the Indians and whites in New Mexico intrudes on the pleasant New Year's party. Contrast between the two priests shows in their different treatment of and attitude toward Dona Isabella and her reluctance to admit her age. Father Vaillant pushes vehemently; Father Latour uses gentle persuasion. Any Cather scholar who has read A Lost Lady will note a similarity in the decline of the Olivares place, the decline of the lady herself with that of the Forrester place and Marian Forrester. Even Pablo wiping the wine glasses with his dirty shirt reminds one of the common rabble who overran the Forrester place. Dona Isabella's choice of song, "Listen to the Mockingbird," is ironic. She has already been compared to a bird--"the pose suited her tip-tilted canary head."

BOOK 7--THE GREAT DIOCESE Summary CHAPTER 1. THE MONTH OF MAY The Gadsden Purchase gives Father Latour new territory for his diocese, but he has to consult the Mexican Bishops on Church matters. This means 4000 miles on horseback. Father Vaillant goes, spends nearly a year, sickens with malaria, and lies ill in Arizona. Father Latour and Jacinto ride out and bring him home, where he is ill for two months. His illness permits him to enjoy with Father Latour the month of May. The Bishop's fruit trees are in bloom; the garden, a beautiful place for an invalid, is the Bishop's only recreation. Both priests love the blue-green tamarisk, but Father Latour sees its artistic form and color against adobe walls. Father Joseph loves it because it is "the tree of the people." Father Vaillant has selected May as the holy month because it is the month of Mary. This year, he can spend hours in contemplation. He remembers his years as a young curate, how the old priest had not granted his desire to have a special devotion to Mary, how the old priest had relented, and how joyful the occasion had been, and how his family had rejoiced with him. Everything important, even his start for the New World, has happened in May. He remembers how difficult it was to leave family and home, how Father Latour has helped him, and he, in turn, has been able to help Father Latour in his work of the new diocese. Father Joseph calls Father Latour and tells him it is time to rest from gardening. The Bishop says he will not pray for Joseph's recovery; his illness will keep him in Santa Fé, and he will be able to see the lotus blossoms in June and July. Father Joseph says he must be gone to save lost Catholics. He commends the Mexicans for being like little children. All they need is encouragement. He tells of a Pima Indian convert who has showed him the things for celebrating Mass that have been hidden years ago to protect them from Apaches. Father Joseph wants to uncover the hidden treasures of faith in the Mexican people. Father Latour says he needs Father Joseph too, but he relinquishes his desire because duty requires it. Magdalena comes out to feed the doves and pick flowers. She has recovered her beauty and vitality. The Bishop thinks she might marry again, but Father Vaillant says she has had enough trouble. CHAPTER 2. DECEMBER NIGHT Father Vaillant goes to Arizona in midsummer. By December, Bishop Latour has fallen into doubt and depression. One night early in December, he can't sleep; his life seems a failure. He rises and thinks of

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

17 going into the church to pray. At first he shrinks from the cold, but then he puts on an old cloak lined with squirrel and goes out into the snow. At the doorway to the sacristy, he finds a woman, Sada, a slave in an American family who are prejudiced against Catholics and will not allow her to go to Mass or see a priest. Usually the Smiths watch her, but in cold weather they put her in the woodshed, and she has found courage to come to the church. The Bishop puts his cloak around her shivering body; this frightens her, but he reassures her. When they go into the church, she falls on her knees and kisses the floor. It has been nineteen years since she has seen the altar. The Bishop prays for her. She tells him that she says her Rosary every night. As they pray together, the priest receives new hope. When she refuses to take his cloak, he gives her a small silver medal. When she has gone back to her woodshed, Father Latour knows that his need has been as great as hers, but that he has found peace. CHAPTER 3. SPRING IN THE NAVAJO COUNTRY Father Vaillant spends the winter in Arizona. In the spring, the Bishop and Jacinto go to the Painted Desert and the Hopi villages. The Bishop then goes south to visit Eusabio who has lost his only son. An important man among the Navajo people, Eusabio calls the Bishop "friend." He offers the Bishop a quiet hogan where he can reflect and watch the river and the cottonwood groves. For three days, the Bishop meditates, trying to decide if he should call Father Vaillant home from Arizona. He needs Father Joseph's enthusiastic tact and his companionship. Father Latour remembers how he met Father Vaillant. They had come from neighboring parishes but had not met until the Seminary. Jean Marie had noticed Joseph, an ugly boy who had much personality. After a short and confidential conversation, Vaillant went to write a letter, and Latour decided to befriend and protect him. The cool, critical, sometimes depressed Latour needs the lively, vivacious, charming but ugly Vaillant. Latour is the scholar, Vaillant the man of action. In spite of the contradictions in Joseph's nature, Father Latour loves him. He begs for the parish, not for himself. He likes food and wine, but uses their energy in spiritual pursuits. He loves people, while Latour withdraws from them. Joseph ignores the sordid conditions of living but loves music; he always adds to whatever company he joins. When Father Joseph went to Rome, he came into the Pope's presence with two valises full of objects to be blessed. He talked with such enthusiasm that the Holy Father and the secretary forgot the time. The Pope finally had to see other people, and Father Vaillant took his valises and began to back out. The Pope rose, saluted, and said, "Courage, American." Father Latour finds the Navajo house in its sandy isolation, a perfect place for reflection. CHAPTER 4. EUSABIO On the third day, the Bishop visits with Eusabio, who has been beating the drum for a dance by his little nephews. The Indian sends them away, and the Bishop says he wants to send a letter to Father Vaillant. He will send Jacinto if someone from the village will accompany him (the Bishop) to Santa Fé. Eusabio says he will go. Father Latour enjoys the trip with Eusabio. The Indian accepts what happens, gathers flowers, erases any track or disturbance their passing may have made. The Indians like old ways, cling to them. They fit themselves into the natural landscape and become a part of it, not trying to change or deface it. Of the landscape of New Mexico, the sky dominates all else.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


Commentary Not only does the great diocese have geographical distances; it has distances between thought from European to Indian to Mexican to American. Spiritual distances are traversed by Magdalena from despair to joy, and by Sada from complete isolation to companionship in worship. Eusabio, although a leader among his own people, calls the Bishop "friend." Whereas once Father Joseph demanded to cook his own leg of lamb, he now enjoys mutton fat. Flowers appear in this section. Magdalena and Eusabio both gather flowers, but Father Joseph may not linger in Santa Fé to see Father Latour's lotuses, the classical flower symbolizing the forgetting of duty for sensual pleasure. Cather's sense of history shows in Father Latour's thoughts about the squirrel-lined cape when he is going out to the cold church, in his memories of his meeting with Father Joseph, in the ancient customs of the Indians, illustrated by Eusabio and his reverence for the land and animals. Eusabio wears coral left by Coronado. Cather often comments on hands. She calls Pablo's hand at the banjo "like a patch of sand-storm." Olivares has golden brown fingers. Father Latour's hands "had a curious authority, but not the calmness so often seen in the hands of priests." His hand covers and leads Sada. When he meets Eusabio after his son's death, Eusabio "stood holding Father Latour's very fine white hand in his very fine dark one." Colors for the month of May are light and delicate: ". . . the soil was full of sunlight, and the sunlight full of red dust . . . the grass under foot had a reflection of blue sky in it." The tamarisk has "brooms of lavender-pink blossom . . . the tamarisk waved its feathery plumes of bluish green. . . . The sprays of bloom which adorn it are merely another shade of the red earth walls and its fibrous trunk is full of gold and lavender tints." In May, the world puts on white to commemorate the Holy Mother Mary. When the reader first saw Magdalena, her face was blank with fear. She wore a black shawl to protect her from the gray rain. Now she lives among apple blossoms and daffodils, and black and silver pigeons. Her color is deep claret under the golden brown of her face. In contrast to Magdalena, the reader sees Sada, who has not had the chance to bloom again. In the early part of the December night scene, the colors are pale, black silver with snow on the ground, and Sada's dark brown face under her black shawl. They enter the black church with its red spark of a lamp. After they leave the church, the cloud bank is soft white fog, and the moon shines full in the blue heavens. Only footsteps are black in the white snow. Figures of speech are: the hogan is like a "ship's cabin on the ocean, with the murmuring of great winds about it." The little Indian dancers have feet "no larger than cottonwood leaves"; "Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky."

BOOK 8--GOLD UNDER PIKE'S PEAK Summary CHAPTER 1. CATHEDRAL Father Vaillant has been in Santa Fé nearly three weeks but does not know yet why he has been called back. At lunch one day, the Bishop says they are going for a ride. Joseph remarks that he has been idle too long. They go toward the Sandia mountains and come upon a hill of golden rock, the hill that will furnish

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

19 stone for the cathedral. It reminds them of the Popes' Palace at Avignon. Father Latour dreams of his church built in the Midi Romanesque style. He will get a builder from France, son of an old friend. Father Joseph thinks they are too poor, but Father Latour says they build for the future. Father Vaillant feels uneasy and wonders why he has been called home from Arizona. He wants a cathedral, but style does not seem important to him. Incidentally, the reader learns in this section that Madame Olivares has moved back to New Orleans and that Padre Jesus of Isleta has died. CHAPTER 2. A LETTER FROM LEAVENWORTH The next day, a letter from Leavenworth tells of conditions in the gold rush of Colorado. Although Cherry Creek is close to Santa Fé geographically, news of the gold in Colorado has come to Father Joseph through letters from Europe. The Bishop of Leavenworth has been to Colorado and has seen thousands of people living in tents and shacks, many Catholics and not one priest. The new community must come under Father Latour's jurisdiction. Living there is difficult; there are no conveniences. When Father Latour finishes the letter, he tells Father Vaillant that his opportunity has come. Father Joseph says he is ready to go and will start the next day, but the Bishop says there is much preparation. He must take his living, and he must have a wagon built and outfitted. This will be Father Joseph's hardest mission. But he will leave his beloved mission in Arizona and go on to Denver. That night as Father Joseph trims his calloused feet, he wishes for a special blessing for feet. He remembers an incident about a boy from Chimayo. Ramón Armajillo had a winning cock who defeated the best cock in Santa Fé. The owner of the defeated bird killed Ramón's cock, and Ramón killed the other boy. When Father Joseph went to see him, the boy was making boots for the little Santiago in the church at Chimayo, who might say a good word for him. Father Joseph does not anticipate this gentle type of criminal in Denver. CHAPTER 3. AUSPICE MARIA! It takes a month to build the special wagon, which must be light but durable. Father Joseph selects furnishings for a chapel; he takes other religious artifacts. Fructosa and Magdalena help. The Bishop frowns when he sees the boxes that indicate Father Joseph's near departure. He knows this will be the final parting. Excited over the new project, Father Joseph says Providence has brought him back from Arizona, but Father Latour says he called Joseph back for a personal selfish wish. Father Vaillant realizes how desolate he leaves Father Latour, who finds it difficult to make new friends, a problem Joseph never has. Joseph thinks a man less refined might have done well enough as the first Bishop of New Mexico, but perhaps a legend may remain. Father Joseph writes letters prior to his departure. When Father Latour comes in, he asks Father Joseph if he intends to take Contento. Father Joseph says he does. Then Father Latour asks him to take Angelica too, as the mules will not understand why they must be separated, and they have worked together so long. A tear falls on Father Vaillant's writing and spreads in the violet ink. Father Latour turns and leaves. Father Vaillant leaves the next day with Sabino and his oldest boy. Father Latour rides out with him, bids him goodbye, and rides back alone with his thoughts of solitude. But when he enters his study, he finds a Presence that fulfills his personal loneliness and gives him peace, the consolation of the Queen of Heaven. The people of Santa Fé have a wooden figure, very dear to the people who make wardrobes and ornaments for her. The Mexicans, as people always have, pour out their love in art. Even before the birth

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

20 of Christ, pagan artists tried to "achieve the image of a goddess who should yet be a woman." Father Vaillant never returns to work in New Mexico. He comes back to recover from illnesses, to see Bishop Latour made Archbishop, but he works in mountain mining camps from Colorado to Utah. He has a carriage long enough to sleep in, with a box at the back which can be made into an altar. Twice his carriage rolls into a gorge; the second time his thigh bone is broken and he remains lame. On one long stay in New Mexico, he visits all his old friends to raise money for the church in Denver. Although the people in Denver are well off, they will not give like the Mexicans. Father Joseph collects money for the windows in the Denver church, and when he tells of how he lives without sheets or other comforts, the people bring gifts. Father Latour says there will not be room enough to take back all the gifts, but Father Joseph says God will send a cart, and He does. Father Joseph lingers for a last visit with the Bishop. He says that "to fulfill the dreams of one's youth; that is the best that can happen to a man." Father Latour says that Father Joseph has been a better servant of God than he--that he deserves a constellation in his crown. They bless each other and say goodbye.

Commentary The contrast between the two priests shows best in their attitude toward the cathedral. Father Latour has his heart set upon something artistic; Father Joseph gives it no thought. Other contrasts are: Father Joseph thinks he has been brought back to Santa Fé through a miracle to prepare him for the Colorado work. Father Latour says he brought him back for selfish reasons, to have him close. The suggestion of Father Latour that the two cream-colored mules not be separated symbolizes the feeling he has about himself and Father Joseph. Father Latour depends for warmth on Father Joseph. The incident of the tear spreading through the violet ink crystallizes Father Joseph's warm humanity. The reader should notice how much the color yellow figures in the discussion of the cathedral "but yellow, a strong golden ochre, very much like the gold of the sunlight that was now beating upon it . . . one yellow hill among all these green ones . . . the chip of yellow rock . . . the rugged wall, gleaming gold above them . . . of rich yellow clay, but the top was still melted gold--a colour that throbbed in the last rays of the sun. . . . I would rather have found that hill of yellow rock than have come into a fortune to spend in charity." Now gold in a different form changes their lives: "Rich gold deposits had been discovered within the last year . . . the gold rush to Colorado . . . deposits of gold along Cherry Creek . . ." To go to Colorado to minister to "gold-crazed men," Father Joseph must leave "that desert and its yellow people . . . who were the dearest to him." In Colorado, men wouldn't put their spades in the earth for "anything less than gold." Cather, then, uses gold in two values to show the difference in standards.

BOOK 9--DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP Summary CHAPTER 1 Father Latour spends his years of retirement on a little estate about four miles north of Santa Fé which he bought for his declining years. He found an old apricot tree there, over two hundred years old, still bearing delicious fruit. Encouraged that he could grow an orchard, he planted fruit trees and a garden. When new priests are sent to him for instruction in Spanish and the character and traditions of the people

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

21 of the diocese, Father Latour urges them to plant fruit trees and add a new element to the Mexican diet. He quotes Pascal: "that Man was lost and saved in a garden." He cultivates wild flowers. His wild verbena makes the hillside beautiful with all shades of purple, the Episcopal color. In 1885, Bernard Ducrot comes to New Mexico to be like a son to the old Archbishop. For a long time he has admired the life and character of the old man. Father Latour feels the young man is a special gift from God. CHAPTER 2 Throughout the fall of 1888, the Bishop is in fine health, instructing five French priests and going out on Christmas Eve to say midnight Mass in the Cathedral at Santa Fé. In January, he is caught in a rainstorm and takes cold. After that he stays in bed and one morning requests young Bernard to ask the new Archbishop if he may return to Santa Fé. He wishes to die there. Bernard assures him that he won't die of a cold, but the old man says he will die of having lived. From then on, he speaks only French, which fact alarms the household more than anything else; he has enforced such a rigid rule about languages. The new Archbishop will be glad to have the old man come back, but Father Latour doesn't want to go on that day: "I wish to go late in the afternoon, toward sunset." He had entered Santa Fé many years before at sunset. On a bright February afternoon, Father Latour returns to Santa Fé and stops to admire "the open golden face of his Cathedral." He is happy over what the young French architect has been able to do, how the church fits into the landscape. Bernard calls attention to the red sunset over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. CHAPTER 3 Father Latour wakens with gratitude to be near his cathedral, to be back in his own study which hasn't changed. He listens to the church bells, the whistle of the train, and remembers that he came when there were still buffalo. His family have expected him to live out his old age in France, but he feels that old age is not so heavy in New Mexico: "In New Mexico he always awoke a young man." He loves the air on the "bright edges of the world." He has returned to die there because of the air. CHAPTER 4 Father Latour continues a routine during his last days. He sees a few visitors and dictates to Bernard facts about the old missions. He regrets that he has not written them down in French. He remembers how the first Spanish Fathers had entered a hostile country, but when he himself had come, the people were friendly. Father Latour has a fine sense of history, of what the first fathers suffered. He tries to impress this on the new French priests. He has heard of miracles wherein a mysterious stranger helped two missionaries. Father Junípero had been entertained by a poor Mexican family, where there was no family at all when they went back to look. Father Latour has loved this story because greatness returned in the form of a humble Mexican family. CHAPTER 5 After lunch, the old Archbishop rests and thinks his own thoughts, especially of Joseph and of how he was torn between loyalty to his family and the desire to leave France for a mission in the New World. Without Father Latour's support, Father Joseph would never have continued in his resolve to go to foreign missions. Father Joseph had tried to promote the Church and had spent too much money and brought reproach on his own name. He had to go to Rome to explain his finances. Father Latour remembers Father Joseph's funeral, what great devotion he has inspired in his fellow men. One priest, Father Revardy, had

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

22 been in France on business, had been taken ill with a fatal sickness, and was hurrying home to report to Bishop Vaillant, but when he got to Chicago, he read that his Bishop was dead. He hurried on to attend the funeral and died a few days later. CHAPTER 6 Father Latour thinks about the past. He does not worry about the future. All his experiences are there for him to contemplate. His mistakes seem unimportant. Eusabio comes to visit and realizes the Archbishop has not long to live. Father Latour tells Bernard that he has seen two wrongs made right: the blacks freed and the Navajos returned to their own country. CHAPTER 7 During the Bishop's middle years in New Mexico, the Navajos had been persecuted. Father Latour felt them to be superior people, and he suffered over their ill treatment and the way they were hunted to death. Kit Carson had conquered the last of them, destroying their corn fields and peach orchards. They lost heart, but their leader, Manuelito, was not captured. Eusabio had asked Father Latour to meet Manuelito, and he went. Manuelito wanted the Bishop to plead in Washington for their lands, which were a part of their religion, sacred places. Father Latour said that a Roman priest couldn't do much in a Protestant government, but Manuelito didn't believe him. He said that Kit Carson would never take him alive, and he would never cross the Rio Grande. In five years, the government saw their mistake and let the Navajos go back to their own lands. In 1875, the Bishop and his French architect had visited the sacred Navajo lands. In his memories, the Archbishop relives both the dark and light scenes. He is glad that the Indian will be preserved. CHAPTER 8 The doctor says the old man's heart fails. He does not want food, and he seems to sleep. All the people pray for him. On his last day, he receives the rites. His final thoughts and words are of the scene where he is reassuring Father Joseph and giving him courage to go to the New World missions. The Archbishop dies that night.

Commentary The Bishop sits "in the middle of his own consciousness." In this last section of the book, the reader gets the perspective of a lifetime. The fruits of the Bishop's life are symbolized by the apricots, the garden, the wild flowers. He has reclaimed a diocese, built a cathedral, taught new priests, and found a son in Bernard. He has seen the buffalo give way to the railroad, blacks freed, and the Navajos restored to their own land. He has seen ignorance and suspicion in the Mexicans give way to faith. From an unreclaimed country, New Mexico has become a fountain of the Faith. Father Latour has chosen the New World as a place to die because of the quality of the air and how it makes him feel. His last thoughts are of the decision to come to the New World. His life has gone to complete a full circle.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


CHARACTER ANALYSES GARCÍA MARÍA DE ALLANDE Of the four priests in the Prologue, the Spanish host, García María de Allande, is one of only two priests named. He comes of Spanish father and English mother. He seems to be indifferent to the missionary Bishop's pleas about the new Vicar for the vicarate of New Mexico; he wants to have his family El Greco painting begged from his grandfather, found and returned from the New World. He admits to seeing all American Indians through the eyes of James Fenimore Cooper. But at the end of the evening, he promises the American Bishop that he will have the man he wants for New Mexico.

FATHER FERRAND The American Bishop is a man-of-action missionary accustomed to rigors in the New World. He cares little for the idle talk of clever men. The other two priests in the Prologue are called the Venetian and the Frenchman, without being named. They represent the clergy accustomed to safe, luxurious continental living.

JEAN MARIE LATOUR The new Vicar Apostolic of New Mexico and Bishop of Agathonica has an open brow, is generous, handsome but severe, with a courtesy toward all living things. He believes in growing fruits and gardens, and wants the Mexicans to have a better diet and more medical help. He thinks miracles come in keeping with natural law. A scholar and gentleman, he finds it difficult to make new friends. He likes solitude in which to meditate and prefers high, airy places, and the bright air of New Mexico. He appreciates the simplicity and child-likeness of the Mexican people, their home carved wooden saints, their devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He respects the Indian's background, his tribal and racial experiences, and admires his loyalty to his own traditions, his respect for nature and his desire not to change it but to leave it undamaged. Father Latour has a sympathy for human relationships, regrets the dying out of Jacinto's people, the loss of Eusabio's son, and the tragic look in Magdalena's eyes even though she seems happy in the service of the church. It was he who watched over her when she was terrified of her criminal husband. Father Latour senses the hurt under Dona Isabella's foolish vanity. With a deep sense of history and humor, Father Latour reflects at Hidden Water on how beautiful the goats are, how they have always been the symbol of pagan lewdness, but how many children their milk has nourished, how many Christians their fleeces have warmed. When he goes into the church that December night, he thinks of the history of his cloak. When he eats onion soup, he remembers that there is a thousand-year history behind it. He likes the idea that the lovely tone of the San Miguel bell comes from Moorish silver. Through his eyes, the reader appreciates all the history back of the Catholic Church in the Southwest. He insists that new priests learn about and value the work of the old Spanish martyr priests. Jacinto likes Father Latour because he presents one face to all people. He neither bows nor condescends to anyone. At the same time, he cooperates with civil authorities: in the Buck Scales case; in the attempt to understand Manuelito, leader of the Navajos; in making the people of New Mexico better American citizens. Intent on the growth of the church in the Southwest, he brings back the Sisters of Loretto to start a girl's school in Santa Fé. He dreams of his golden cathedral until it becomes a reality. He cares about the artistic construction and placement of the cathedral, just as he admired the art and history of Father Jesus' carved parrot. Consistent with his feeling for art is his feeling for organization. He follows a routine

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

24 throughout his very last days. Somewhat fastidious, Father Latour shrinks from the household of Father Martínez, the excesses of Padre Gallegos, the penury of Padre Lucero; but he has no hesitation in making a decision, and he carries out necessary discipline. Nor does he shrink from long difficult trips on horseback, from camping out under all conditions. Sensitive to the problems of the Indians, blacks, and under-privileged people, he grieves over the dying pueblo of Pecos, over the injustices of the Navajos. (Although Willa Cather does not reveal it in this book, the priests had seen the sordid aspect of slavery on their trip from Ohio). In his last days, he dreams and meditates on his life; his mistakes seem unimportant. He has given a life of service, but not so much, he thinks, as his Vicar, Father Joseph Vaillant.

FATHER JOSEPH VAILLANT He is ugly, warm-hearted, impulsive, and sometimes too vehement. He complements the cold reserve of his Bishop. In his first encounter with Jean Marie Latour, he tells Jean with pride that his father is a baker, that in an impulsive moment he volunteered for the French army, but his father stopped him. His mother wants him to be a priest, but his father and his family do not want him to go to the New World. Without Jean's encouragement, Joseph would never have had the courage to follow the call to America. Father Joseph loves good food and drink, but he converts it into spiritual energy. He begs without shame for the church, talking Manuel Lujon out of his two cream-colored mules; and after he is in Denver, he persuades the Mexican people to donate money for the Denver church and bedding for his own use. His motto is "Rest in action." Impulsive, he throws his arms around Manuel Lujon; he hops on the mule like a grasshopper and rides him; he cries over the separation from Father Latour. When discipline demands, he "whips the cats." Making friends with ease, he goes into difficult situations where there is prejudice against the new regime and dissolves all ill feeling. Devoted to Father Latour, he is not so dependent on him for company as vice versa. Sometimes Father Joseph embarrasses Father Latour with his begging, but Vaillant does not beg for himself. When he was young, Father Joseph hoped to lead a quiet life of devotion; and when they are in Santa Fé, he begs Father Latour to promise that he will not have to go farther west; but he does go west as far as Utah and endures all sorts of difficulties on the frontier, a cross for him because he does not have a strong constitution. Although he cares little for art, for the arrangement of things, he loves music and likes to sing and always adds charm to whatever company he joins. He knows no embarrassment in doing the work of the church, takes two valises full of artifacts for the Pope to bless, and so much interests the Pope that the Holy Father forgets there are others to see and spends three times the allotment of time on Father Joseph. Father Joseph inspires great personal love, as for example that of Father Latour and that of Father Revardy, who while dying himself, comes to Father Joseph's funeral. Father Joseph, in his zeal for the church, overspends himself, falls into the hands of loan sharks, and brings question on his name. He goes to Rome to answer about his finances. Close to his family, Father Joseph writes his sister often, and she and her nuns make vestments and linens for his use. He believes in miracles without benefit of law, and likes to imagine just how the miracle has come about with the intervention of the Blessed Mother, to whom he has consecrated himself. He has

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

25 chosen May, the month of Mary, as his special month for consecration.

BENITO The old widower who lives at Agua Secreta and welcomes Father Latour. Benito's grandfather had settled there soon after the French revolution. Benito has wooden figures over sixty years old. José, his older grandson, distrusts Americans and thinks they will take away the religion of the Catholics. Santiago, the younger grandson, tells the priest that Santiago is the saint of horses. Josepha, Benito's daughter, takes care of the house and wants to know if eating food without chili is more pious than using the spices. Salvatore, Benito's oldest son, has gone to Albuquerque to get married, but the cost has been so high that the others have taken wives without the sacrament.

PADRE ESCOLASTICO HERRERA An old priest who has just made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Guadalupe in Mexico, and who tells Father Latour of the poor Mexican Juan Diego to whom the Mother of God appeared and told him to ask the Bishop to build a church for her there. Bishop Zumarraga did not believe at first, but later he and his Vicar were convinced through the miracle of the flowers and the painting on Juan's mantle. Bernardino was Juan Diego's sick uncle for whom he cared and who was healed by the Virgin.

MANUEL LUJON The wealthy Mexican rancher whom Father Vaillant visits, and who gives the priest the two creamcolored mules: Angelica and Contento. Lujon, about thirty-five, swarthy, friendly, does not see why Father Vaillant must have the men out of the fields at once for the marriages. He likes company, plays dominoes with the priest, and drinks brandy. Rosa, Lujon's cook, lets Father Vaillant cook his own leg of lamb but shudders at the rare meat.

PHILOMÉNE Father Joseph's sister and close confidante, who is Mother Superior of a convent in Puy-de-Dôme. She and her nuns make vestments and linens and other articles for Father Joseph. She tells Father Latour that just around the corner of the street of their French town, she can see in her imagination the expanse of New Mexico.

BUCK SCALES The householder on the road to Mora who plans to murder the priests, but they are saved by a warning from his wife. He has murdered four travelers and his own three children. For his crimes, he is tried and hanged. Magdalena, his wife, warns the priests and finds the courage to run away from her husband. She later works for the Sisters of Loretto and "blooms again in the household of God." A notary and his friend, St. Vrain, listen to Magdalena's story. St. Vrain has known her when she was a girl. The two men investigate the Scales place, find the bodies, arrest Scales, and bring him to Mora. St. Vrain goes to Taos for a magistrate while the notary and Father Latour guard Magdalena that night.

KIT CARSON A Western scout and mountain man, he comes to see Magdalena and takes her home to his wife. Carson becomes a lifelong friend of Father Latour. Carson talks with a Southern drawl. A blonde, blue-eyed man, not physically large, Carson impresses others with his strength. When Father Latour needs information about what goes on in Taos and what Padre Martínez plans, Carson keeps the Bishop informed. Carson fights the Navajos and brings them to surrender. At the time Father Latour first meets him, Carson can neither read nor write, but he knows the map of western United States like no one else.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


JACINTO The Bishop's Indian guide from the Pecos pueblo, he goes with him on camping trips and saves his life by taking him into the secret Indian ceremonial cave between the stone lips. Jacinto respects the Bishop because he turns the same face to everyone and does not condescend to anyone. Jacinto does not like all white men, but he takes pride in the Bishop. He believes the stars are great spirits and spirit leaders. Clara, Jacinto's wife, cooks and serves a meal for the Bishop and Jacinto at Pecos. Her baby is sick, but the Indians resist any suggestion of medicine.

PADRE GALLEGOS The Priest at Albuquerque, a great gambler and dancer, welcomes Father Latour but bandages up his own foot so he won't have to travel to Ácoma with the Bishop. A rich widow adores Gallegos and waits on him. Father Latour suspends Padre Gallegos from his office as priest, and Father Vaillant takes over and changes festivals into religious devotions.

PADRE JESUS DE BACA An old, almost blind, devout priest at Isleta, who loves parrots because his parish loves parrots. He shows Father Latour great hospitality and explains the carved wooden parrot, an antique treasure. In contrast to the worldly Gallegos, Padre Jesus has a "quality of golden goodness." The Governor at Laguma welcomes Father Latour and entertains him. Fray Juan Ramirez, an early missionary, had built the church at Ácoma and made a path for burros to ascend to the top of the mesa.

FRAY BALTAZAR MONTOYA An early priest at Ácoma, he enslaved the people for the sake of his garden and fruit trees and the food for his table. They put up with him because he had a portrait of St. Joseph which was supposed to bring rain, and they feared his magic. But when he was entertaining four priests, he lost his temper, threw a mug at the serving boy, and accidentally killed him. That evening, the Ácomas threw Fray Baltazar over the cliff.

ZEB ORCHARD A trader in the mountains who knows both whites and Indians. He tells Father Latour that the Indians keep some varmint in the mountains for religious purposes. When he was a boy, he saw a girl who thought the Indians were going to sacrifice her baby to the snake.

ANTONIO JOSÉ MARTÍNEZ He rules both the village and the church at Taos. Martínez has been involved in the Bent massacre but has escaped punishment. He has acquired the land from seven Indians who were hanged. He has mistresses and children, exhibits great physical force, and has a strong personality. He sings Mass beautifully and could have been a great man had he been disciplined. He challenges the Bishop on the subject of celibacy and frankly says that if he meets interference, he will start his own church. Martínez had married but lost his wife and child. However, after marriage, he had learned to read and write, and when bereaved, he had gone to old Mexico to educate himself for the priesthood. He is well versed in church history and the classics. Finally Martínez resigns at the Bishop's suggestion, but he quarrels with the new priest and sets up a church of his own. He dies in schism attended by his friend, Padre Lucero.

TRINIDAD A student of Martínez, he claims to be a nephew of Padre Lucero although Mrs. Kit Carson thinks he is one of Martínez' numerous sons. Although he studies for the priesthood, Trinidad seems to Father Latour to be poor material. He goes from one sensual stupor to another. In religious zeal, he outdoes himself, gets scourged with cactus, and falls ill. The people at Abiquiu ask him not to return for the religious

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27 celebration of Holy Week.

MRS. KIT CARSON An unlettered Mexican woman with native intelligence, she talks with Father Latour. He respects her opinion and listens to her advice in regard to the Penitential Brotherhood--to leave it alone and it will die out of itself.

FATHER TALADRID A Spanish priest whom Bishop Latour brings from Rome, and who takes over at Taos. Soon Father Taladrid and Padre Martínez are in open conflict.

PADRE MARINO LUCERO A friend of Martínez, resembling him only in his love of authority. Whereas Martínez is a profligate, Lucero is a miser. He won't use enough candles or food for daily needs, and hoards money. He uses castoff garments of Martínez even if they are too large. He goes into schism with Padre Martínez and later buries him. When he falls sick, he still summons strength to kill a robber who has heard of the old man's wealth and has come to take it from him. After killing the robber, Padre Lucero does not rally: He calls for more and more candles to light the room so his money will not be stolen. His last thoughts are about his money and what should be done with it. With difficulty, Father Vaillant gets his mind away from the money long enough for the last Sacrament. He dies saying words that make the people think he sees Martínez in torment. Lucero has a high-pitched voice, like a horse talking. Conception Gonzales takes care of Father Lucero in his last illness, brings her own sheets, and watches over him.

DON ANTONIO OLIVARES An outstanding member of a large family, he encourages Father Latour in planning his cathedral. A large man with a lively expression, he enjoys companionship with the two French priests. At a supper party on New Year's, he promises to give enough money to build the cathedral, but he dies before he fulfills the promise. His second wife, Dona Isabella Olivares, is an American from New Orleans. Pretty, accomplished, and vivacious, Dona Isabella gives rise to gossip. She appears young and has held her husband's affection. A devout Catholic, she likes to entertain the priests, talk French with them, and sing for them. After her husband's death, she refuses to admit her age so that she can inherit the Olivares money. Finally Father Latour persuades her to at least admit enough age so that she can be the mother of Inez. She does this, thereby winning her suit in defense against the brothers of her husband, but she accuses the priests of making her tell a lie about her age. Eventually she returns to New Orleans.

INEZ The doleful daughter of Antonio and Isabella, who casts a mournful spell over the household when she visits. With a beautiful voice, she sings in the cathedral choir in New Orleans and teaches singing in a convent. Gossips say she is too old to be Isabella's daughter.

PABLO A Mexican boy, who plays the banjo. Gossips link his name with Isabella's. After Don Antonio's death, when Isabella and her friends have an impromptu celebration on winning the lawsuit, Pablo wipes out the wine glasses with his dirty shirt and serves the guests.

DON MANUEL CHAVEZ A descendant from two Castilian knights, he hates Americans and Indians. He attends the Olivares' party out of respect for Dona Isabella. Jealous of Kit Carson's fame as an Indian fighter, Chavez can beat anyone with a bow and arrow. When he was a boy, he had gone hunting Navajos and had been in a group

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

28 at Canyon de Chelly. All were destroyed but Chavez, who, with seven wounds and a shaft through his body, crawled to safety. Later, at the spot where he fell unconscious among Mexican shepherds, he built a home.

BOYD O'REILLY The young Irish lawyer from Boston who manages the Olivares' affairs and tries to get Mrs. Olivares to admit her age but has no success. The Olivares brothers are contesting the will. O'Reilly enlists the help of the two priests and wins his case.

FRUCTOSA The Mexican housekeeper for the priests, she learns to cook from Father Vaillant. Tranquilino, Fructosa's husband, learns gardening and helps Father Latour with flowers and fruits.

SADA An old Mexican woman who has been enslaved by the Smiths, a Protestant family of low class from Georgia. Hostile to Catholics, they do not let her go to church, but when she is left to sleep in the woodshed on this winter night, she finds the courage to go to the church, where Father Latour happens to meet her, lets her inside, hears her confession, and gives her consolation.

EUSABIO A Navajo friend of Father Latour, he has lost his only son. Influential among his people, Eusabio has helped keep peace between the Navajos and the Hopis. He is respected for his strength, his dignity, and his intelligence. He accompanies Father Latour to Santa Fé; in traveling he blends with the country, and he does not deface it but appreciates its beauty. Eagle Feather and Medicine Mountain are Eusabio's nephews.

MONSIGNOR (CARDINAL) MAZZUCCHI The priest who was secretary to the Pope when Father Vaillant visited him, and told Father Latour the story of Father Joseph's interview with the Pope. Father Latour told the Cardinal the story, Father Junípero.

MARIUS VAILLANT Brother of Father Joseph, he writes to question the priest about the gold rush in Colorado but does not tell about the war in Italy.

THE BISHOP OF LEAVENWORTH Writes Father Latour that the territory of the gold rush will be under his jurisdiction.

RAMÓN ARMAJILLO The boy from Chimayo who killed the boy who wrung the neck of Ramón's fighting cock. Before Ramón was hanged, he made shoes for the little Santiago at Chimayo, hoping the saint would intercede for him.

SABINO The brother of Tranquillo, who drives Father Vaillant's wagon to Denver. His oldest boy rides Angelica.

BERNARD DUCROT A young priest who becomes like a son to the Archbishop. He has long admired the old missionary and watches over him in his declining years.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965


M. MOLNY The French architect who builds Father Latour's cathedral. He fulfills the Archbishop's dream of the church in a proper setting. The two men visit the Navajo country.

FATHER JUNÍPERO SERRA An early Franciscan missionary, he was entertained along with his companion Father Andrea, by a poor Mexican family, but when they went to look for them, they were gone. Many miracles were told about Father Junípero's adventures. The implication is that he was saved by the intervention of divine powers.

FATHER REVARDY A French priest who assisted Father Vaillant for twenty years, visits France. When he realizes he has a fatal illness, he starts home but hears that Father Vaillant is dead. He goes on to Denver, attends the funeral, and dies a few days later.

MANUELITO Leader of the Navajos, he talks with Father Latour. He asks Father Latour to intercede at Washington for his people. He does not give up, and eventually the Navajo people are restored to their own lands.

CRITICAL ESSAYS STYLE AND TECHNIQUE Cather says of this book that she used the opposite of the dramatic treatment: "The essence of such writing is not to hold the note, not to use an incident for all there is in it--but to touch and pass on. . . . In this kind of writing the mood is the thing." To achieve unity in this tapestry-like panorama of historic events, Cather induces and maintains mood through color and through repetition of motif. To illustrate this, take the motif of sunset. In the Prologue, the four priests dine in a hidden garden in the Sabine hills overlooking Rome. At sunset, "waves of rose and gold throbbed up the sky from behind the dome of the Basilica." Father Latour, approaching Santa Fé, "at about the sunset hour of a summer afternoon, at last beheld the old settlement toward which he had been journeying so long." After he has found refuge at Hidden Water, the Bishop sits by the spring a mile above the village "while the declining sun poured its beautifying light over those low, rose-tinted houses and bright gardens." At Laguna, Jacinto makes camp on the rocks north of the village. "As the sun dropped low, the light brought the white church and the yellow adobe houses up into relief from the flat ledges." At Ácoma, Father Latour stays in the deserted loggia and watches the sun go down: "Abroad in the plain the scattered mesa tops red with afterglow, one by one lost their light, like candles going out." At Pecos, he paces the rock. "The sun was sinking, a red ball which threw a copper glow over the pine-covered ridge of mountains." At Taos, the Bishop stops west of the pueblo "a little before sunset." He watches the communal houses: "Gold-coloured men in white burnooses came out on the stairlike flights of roofs, and stood still as statues, apparently watching the changing light on the mountain . . . no sound at all, but the bleating of goats coming home through clouds of golden dust." Father Latour takes Father Vaillant to see the cathedral rock: "The hill stood up high and quite alone,

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

30 boldly facing the declining sun and the blue Sandias." Father Latour tells of the day he found the rock: "I rode up here from the west in the late afternoon." As they watch the hill, "already in shadow, [was] subdued to the tone of rich yellow clay, but the top was still melted gold--a colour that throbbed in the last rays of the sun." When Father Latour wants to go back to Santa Fé to die, he tells Bernard, "I wish to go late in the afternoon toward sunset." And when they do go "at the end of a brilliant February afternoon," they await the sunset and look at "the open, golden face of his Cathedral." The sunset motif enforces the name of the book, Death Comes for the Archbishop. Sunset colors dominate the story. In this way, Cather achieves unity. The novel has no plot. It travels serenely toward the end of life--a golden sunset. Another factor in unity lies in the historic background. Most of the people in the book have lived; the chronologies of their lives make for unity. However, when the artistic view demanded, Cather has rearranged sequence. Passage of time by taking note of the seasons, a favorite Cather device, makes the story flow without interruption. Although occasional flashbacks and insertion of history (sometimes ancient) appear, they are so enfolded with the mood of the story that they do not impede the flow. As a panorama, the narrative has room for diversions in time and place, without changing the mood. For example, Father Latour's memories as he nears his death take him back to his visit to the Navajos, their final restoration to their own Garden of Eden. When his final memory is that of Father Joseph trying to decide whether to stay in France or go to the New World, the reader catches the suggestion that the Archbishop himself is about to take off on a new journey. Of the more than fifty characters who appear in this story, aside from the two French missionary priests, many do not reappear and are lost from sight just as these things happen in real life. Even Father Vaillant's place in Father Latour's life is taken by the cathedral. But, as one goes toward the sunset, one must give up many relationships.

MOTIFS As Cather said, in this kind of story, the mood dominates. To show how a mood builds up, notice the reptilian motif which begins when the priests are on the way to help refugees and encounter Buck Scales. A rain overtakes them and the raindrops shaped like tadpoles explode "with a splash, as if they were hollow and full of air." The mountains have horny backbones. Buck Scales has thick ridges on his repellent head; his head moves from side to side like a snake's. He has murdered his own children. The mood persists throughout the Ácoma story where Father Latour notices the wild pumpkin: "the whole rigid, up-thrust matted clump looks less like a plant than like a great colony of grey-green lizards, moving and suddenly arrested by fear." When he celebrates Mass for the people of Ácoma, he feels as if he were at the bottom of the sea ministering to rock-turtles. He feels something reptilian. The next section, titled "Snake Root," continues the mood. A dark wind out of the past comes out of the storm cloud which drives Father Latour and Jacinto into the ancient ceremonial cave for refuge from the blizzard. A feeling of revulsion persists in the priest long after he has left the cave. He inquires and finds that possibly there are still human sacrifices; babies to feed the snake. This completes the reptilian motif with the return to the thought of Buck Scales killing his own babies. Willa Cather admitted that one of her best accomplishments in writing was the portrayal of pictures. In

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31 doing this she used color, figures of speech, and appeal to the imagination. She also believed that what one could convey to the reader without actually stating it was the mark of true art. An example of how Cather does this: When Father Joseph is preparing to go to Colorado, Father Latour comes in and asks him to take both mules, as they will not understand separation: "Father Vaillant made no reply. He stood looking intently at the pages of his letter. The Bishop saw a drop of water splash down upon the violet script and spread. He turned quickly and went out through the arched doorway." This incident uses color, symbolism, and imagination. For an example of figure of speech, notice Friar Baltazar after he has inadvertently killed the boy: "The airy loggia . . . was like a birdcage hung in the breeze. . . . Tonight he wished he could keep the moon from coming up through the floor of the desert,--the moon was the clock which began things in the pueblo. He watched with horror for that golden rim against the deep blue velvet of the night." Friar Baltazar is in a birdcage, but he will not be able to fly. As has been pointed out, the predominating color of this book is golden, with variations, to yellow, copper, and bronze. In the historic account of Father Joseph getting the pair of mules, the animals were bay color. But Cather makes a point of their being cream colored, ivory to fawn color, the color of pearls. This fact indicates that Cather had in mind an artistic use of color. Examples of her use of color are: "The sun was sinking, a red ball which threw a copper glow over the pine-covered ridge of mountains and edged that inky, ominous cloud with molten silver. The great red earth walls of the mission, red as brick-dust, yawned gloomily before him. . . . They went along a line of red doorways and across the bare rock to the gaunt ruin, whose lateral walls, with their buttresses, still braved the storm and let in the starlight." The mood here depresses. Red predominates. The sun merely sheds a copper glow and there will be starlight. When Father Latour is lost in the desert, he is in a desert of red ovens, "monotonous red sand-hills . . . uniform red hills . . . conical red hills . . . geometrical nightmare . . . red as brickdust . . ." But at Agua Secreta, "The Bishop sat a long time by the spring, while the declining sun poured its beautifying light over those low, rose-tinted houses and bright gardens." The color green seems to indicate coldness. As Father Latour thinks of his home in France, he remembers "the cold green ivy on the walls." The mountains around Santa Fé are "wrinkled green . . . with bare Tops--wave-like mountains, resembling billows beaten up from a flat sea by a heavy gale; and their green was of two colours--aspen and evergreen, not intermingled but lying in solid areas of light and dark." When the priests are on the road to Mora, "There was not a glimmer of white light in the dark vapours working overhead--rather, they took on the cold green of the evergreens. The wild pumpkin vine looked like "grey-green lizards." The blue-green color seems to have more warmth: "The grass under foot had a reflection of the blue sky in it"; "the tamarisk waved its feathery plumes of bluish green." Sometimes green has an attraction as the "tall, naked cottonwoods . . . seemed to be . . . dead. . . . High up in the forks . . . would burst a faint bouquet of delicate green leaves. . . . The grove looked like a winter wood of giant trees, with clusters of mistletoe growing among the bare boughs." Even here the implication is of cold. There is green rock all around the yellow rock from which the cathedral will be built. Violet and shades of purple symbolize the priesthood. Father Latour has a hillside covered with purple verbena: "It was like a great violet velvet mantle thrown down in the sun . . . the violet that is full of rose colour and is yet not lavender; the blue that becomes almost pink and then retreats again into sea-dark purple--the true Episcopal colour and countless variations of it." The priests write with violet ink. When Father Latour goes to a party at Dona Isabella's, he wears his violet vest. But on the road to Mora, "purplish lead-coloured clouds let down curtains of mist into the valleys. . . . Even the white mules, their

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

32 coats wet and matted into tufts, had turned a slaty hue, and the faces of the two priests were purple and spotted in that singular light." The color blue compliments the gold: "[T]here was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world . . . that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud." Father Latour wants to die in New Mexico because "something . . . released the prisoned spirit of man into the wind, into the blue and gold, into the morning, into the morning!" Black accents the other colors and often indicates trouble or sorrow. Father Joseph falls ill with black measles. A wind from the past blows out of a black cloud. Sada wears a "frayed black shawl." The church is utterly black except for the red of the sanctuary lamp. Father Latour looks "at the line of black footprints his departing visitor had left in the wet scurf of snow." White stands for purity. The church at Isleta, the priest's house, all the houses are white. The world puts on white for the month of May, Mary's month. When Father Latour and Jacinto climb out of the ceremonial cave, they drop "into a gleaming white world." Sometimes silver lines the black clouds; the bell at San Miguel has silver tones; the Bishop has silver toilet articles. In connection with color and picture making, the reader should note some of Cather's figures of speech. Writing about desert country, she uses a number of figures involving water. The French missionary priest who asks for Father Latour as the Bishop of New Mexico says, "That country will drink up his youth and strength as it does the rain." Other water figures are: "The long gravelled terrace and its balustrade were blue as a lake in the dusky air. . . . Waves of rose and gold . . . wave-like mountains, resembling billows beaten up from a flat sea by a heavy gale . . . the town seemed to flow from it like a stream from a spring." "Below them, in the midst of that wavy ocean of sand, was a green thread of verdure and a running stream . . . parched and thirsty sea of sand. . . . The Faith planted by the Spanish friars and watered with their blood . . . [Laguna] lying, apparently, in the midst of bright yellow waves of high sand dunes. . . . From the flat red sea of sand rose great rock mesas, generally Gothic in outline, resembling vast cathedrals. That olive-coloured plant [rabbit brush] that grows in high waves like a tossing sea . . . The whole country seemed fluid to the eye . . . facing a sea of junipers and cedars. . . . The hogan was isolated like a ship's cabin on the ocean . . . winding among the sand waves." Father Latour, at the end of his life, feels "safe under its [Cathedral's] shadow; like a boat come back to harbour, lying under its own sea-wall." At the north end of the Canyon de Chelly is a rock, "the figure of a one-masted fishing-boat under full sail." The white men named it Shiprock. Many of the figures deal with light. "The whole western sky was the colour of golden ashes, with here and there a flush of red on the lip of a little cloud . . . the evening-star flickered like a lamp just lit . . . the scattered mesa tops, red with the afterglow, one by one lost their light, like candles going out." "The evening-star hung above the amber afterglow, so soft, so brilliant that she seemed to bathe in her own silver light. . . . town lying rosy in the morning light, the mountains behind it, and the hills close about it like two encircling arms." The reader should notice the personification of nature. The lip of a cloud is red; the country drinks. Father Ferrand's "diocese lay within the icy arms of the Great Lakes . . . the sharp winds had bitten him well." "The hills thrust out of the ground so thickly that they seemed to be pushing each other, elbowing each other aside, tipping each other over." The ceremonial cave has mouth, lips, and throat. Father Latour

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

33 wishes he could have "arrested their [historic events] flight by throwing about them the light and elastic mesh of the French tongue." The figures which appeal to sight are so numerous they need not be pointed out. Some which invite the sense of touch are "icy arms . . . elbowing each other"; "These raindrops, Father Latour kept thinking, were the shape of tadpoles, and they broke against his nose and cheeks, exploding with a splash, as if they were hollow and full of air." Trinidad's "fat face was irritatingly stupid, and had the grey, oily look of soft cheeses." One can hear the bell of San Miguel: "Full, clear, with something bland and suave, each note floated through the air like a globe of silver." On the road to Mora, the rain turns to sleet: "The rattle of icy flakes" strikes them. After Friar Baltazar has killed the boy, there is absence of sound: "the rock top baked in the fire of the sun in utter silence." The underground river of the ceremonial cave sounds like a hive of bees, or drums. To the senses of taste and smell, there are not so many appeals. Throughout the book, the water figures remind the reader of the early exclamation "I thirst" and what this experience meant to Father Latour. The whole country is thirsty, but the idea comes through mood and not through the taste of any one person. Even in the areas where Cather most concerns herself with food, there is a notable absence of figures regarding taste and smell. There is the odor of perpetual incense from burning pinon; there is a fresh watered smell from Friar Baltazar's garden. The ceremonial cave has a fetid odor. Father Latour does not like the air in Martínez' house. But he wants to end his days in New Mexico because of the air: "His first consciousness was a sense of the light dry wind blowing in through the windows, with the fragrance of hot sun and sage-brush and sweet clover . . . light-hearted mornings of the desert . . . one could breathe that [air] only on the bright edges of the world, on the great grass plains or the sage-brush desert." Cather uses historical references and classical touches to give depth. Father Ferrand says, "If this Augean stable is not cleansed . . ." Augeas, one of the Argonauts, never cleaned his stables. Because of the great number of oxen and goats, and because the place had never been cleaned, the task seemed impossible. Father Latour watches the white goats and thinks of the Apocalypse, the blood of the Lamb, the pagan idea of goats. He sits by the hidden water and thinks of early river goddesses in Rome. There is a thousand years of history in Father Joseph's soup. The San Miguel bell comes from Moorish silver. Father Latour listens to the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe; he admires the ancient carved parrot at Isleta; the people of Ácoma have the air of antediluvians. The legend of Friar Baltazar is over a hundred years old; the ceremonial practices of the Pecos reach back into pre-history. Manuel Chavez has descended from Castilian knights of the twelfth century. Eusabio wears coral left in the Navajo country by Coronado. The stone for the Bishop's cathedral is like that of the old Papal Palace at Avignon. The people of Santa Fé still hold a yearly procession in honor of the Virgin, a custom vowed by De Vargas when he recaptured the city for Spain in the seventeenth century. Death Comes for the Archbishop is told from various viewpoints. At the beginning, the viewpoint is omniscient, then it changes to Father Latour's viewpoint. At times, the reader sees through Father Joseph's mind and through the eyes of other characters.

SYMBOLISM Death Comes for the Archbishop can be read on several levels: as an historical novel, as a religious narrative, and as a symbolic treatment of life.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

34 Father Joseph says, "To fulfil the dreams of one's youth; that is the best that can happen to a man. No worldly success can take the place of that." The dreams of two young priests can best be understood and realized through symbolism. The scene in the hidden garden overlooking Rome signifies the status of the priesthood--on a high and vulnerable place--but on a rock--looking over the world. This scene of a priest standing on a high place looking over the landscape recurs in almost every section of the book--and often the time of day is late afternoon or sunset, pointing toward the end of this life. The position of the priest could be the position of any thoughtful, intelligent, responsible person looking at life. The treatment of night also is symbolic. The night in the ceremonial cave depresses Father Latour, as does his night at the home of Father Martínez. But when he spends the night in the semi-ruined sacristy or in Eusabio's hogan, he finds comfort. In the chapter "December Night," the word has a multiple meaning-that night of depression in which the Bishop finds himself, Sada's night of oppression, and the actual winter night. In Cather's earlier works, water meant death and passion. In this book, the constant repetition of water symbols in regard to the desert symbolizes the thirst of the people for the gift the priests bring. Into the scene of thirst comes the cruciform tree--symbol of suffering and devotion. At Agua Secreta, the stream rises and flowers into human habitations. At the ceremonial cave, the underground river rushes on, never rising, never giving life, symbol of the death worship of the Indians, and also symbol of humanity's need to rise above the darkness of ignorance, death, and passion to life. Jacinto, although an admirable man, will not accept medical advice for the baby as it is dying--the whole tribe is dying. Father Latour's thirst symbolizes his need for companionship, his need for reassurance in his spiritual quest, his desire for all the comforts he leaves behind; the water which will quench this thirst is the presence of the Mother of God. When the two priests are talking about the extent of the diocese and Father Joseph wishes to be reassured that he will go no farther into the wilderness, Father Latour says, "Who knows how far?" Symbolically he speaks of distances other than geographic, distances of understanding, of historical development, of spiritual growth. Often when Father Latour looks out over the landscape, he stands on a rock or rocks. At Ácoma, he thinks, "these Indians . . . had at last taken this leap away from the earth, and on that rock had found the hope of all suffering and tormented creatures--safety. . . . The rock, when one came to think of it, was the utmost expression of human need." The Ácomas "actually lived upon their Rock." The idea of the Rock as Refuge will be developed in Cather's next novel, Shadows on the Rock. The two mules symbolize the two priests. Contento belongs to Father Vaillant (who makes friends easily); Angelica belongs to Father Latour (who lives in a more ethereal realm of mind than does his friend). Both men and animals live in devotion to duty, in work together, but without offspring. Father Latour asks that the two mules not be separated--they cannot understand it as the two priests can. The names of the two priests indicate their characters. Father Latour is a tower of strength; he reaches high into the explanation of things. Father Vaillant, the soldier type, does battle with all difficulties. It is he who is sent to "whip the cats." The reader will note an ironic twist to the name Father Lucero (light), his historic name, who was too stingy to buy candles during his miserly lifetime, but who cries desperately for them when he is dying. Examples of Cather's irony are: Dona Isabella sings "Listen to the Mockingbird" when she has won the

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

35 lawsuit. After the song, she reproves the priests for making her lie about her age. Friar Baltazar waits in his airy birdcage, but he cannot fly when he is tossed over the cliff.


How does Cather alter history to serve art?


What are the sources of this book?


How does this book fit into Cather's writing chronologically and thematically?


How did she choose the title's name, and how is the name carried out in the theme and mood?


Compare Father Latour and Father Vaillant. Whom do you prefer?


Illustrate how Cather repeats a motif. What effect does this repetition have?


What purpose does mood serve in this book? How is mood developed and maintained?


Why is symbolism an integral part of this novel? Show how it is used.


On what three levels can this book be read?


Discuss the use of color. What varying values have gold and yellow?


Cather's art lies in picture-making. Describe at least two pictures she has painted in this book.


Defend the name "Golden Legend" for this book.


Discuss the symbolism of thirst, water, and the desert.


How does Cather use history to enrich the story?


To which of the five senses does this book appeal? Give illustrations.


One critic has said this book shows more interest in food than in religion. Discuss.


What problems confronted the priests when they came to New Mexico? Discuss at least three.


What European views on Americans are expressed? Are they valid?


Cather said that she did not want to play up incidents for all there was in them. Name at least two situations that have great dramatic possibilities.


What is the feeling or mood that this book leaves with you? Explain.


Can you detect how Cather feels about the Indians? The Mexicans? The French? Illustrate.


What is the meaning of the chapter "December Night"? What does it reveal about the Bishop?

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965

36 23.

Willa Cather was not a Catholic. Can you suggest why she wanted to write this book?


Why did Cather include the story of Fray Baltazar? What symbolism does it have? Exactly what was his great failure?


Name five nationalities found in the Southwest. Which is the one not represented in the prologue?

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Bennett, Mildred R. World of Willa Cather. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1951. Bloom, Edward A. and Lillian D. Willa Cather's Gift of Sympathy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press, 1962. Brown, E. K. (completed by Leon Edel). Cather, A Critical Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953. Cather, Willa. Willa Cather on Writing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949. Daiches, David. Willa Cather, A Critical Introduction. Ithaca N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1951. Gismar, Maxwell. The Last of the Provincials. Boston, 1947. 153-220. Lewis, Edith. Willa Cather Living. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953. Morris, Lloyd. Willa Cather. North American Review (CCXIX), 1924. Sergeant, Elizabeth Shipley. Willa Cather, A Memoir. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press (Bison Book), 1964. _____. Fire Under the Andes. New York, 1927. 261-82. Van Doren, Carl. The American Novel. New York, 1940. 281-93. West, Rebecca. The Strange Necessity. New York, 1931. 215-28.

Cliffs Notes on Death Comes for the Archbishop © 1965