Death Comes for the Archbishop
In 1851 Bishop Latour and his friend Father Valliant are despatched to New Mexico to reawaken its slumbering Catholicism. Moving along the endless prairies, Latour spreads his faith the only way he knows-gently, although he must contend with the unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Over nearly years, they leave converts and enemies, crosses, and occasionally ecstasy in their wake. But it takes a death for them to make their mark on the landscape forever.
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Originally published in 1927, this book is one of several novels written by author Willa Cather. It is a fictional work based on the life of Jean-Baptiste Lamy, and exposes the many contradictions that emerged as a result of the United States' annexation of a chunk of land previously held by Mexico.
Which of the following words would the characters in this prologue not use to describe life in the New World?
El Greco, 1541-1614, is one of the greatest Spanish painters of all time. Below is an image of "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz," one of his most famous pieces. (This annotation contains an image)
This horseman's wandering, lost in the desert, brings to mind the story of
Below is a photograph of the old mission in Santa Fe, built in 1610. It is easy to see why this town has been considered so beautiful to this day. (This annotation contains an image)
What can we infer from this first paragraph of the chapter?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
The descriptions of this house help set a __________ tone.
To appreciate how Cather develops different themes in this book, watch the following video. Then, consider the highlighted sentence and think about food in your life that has many "years of history." (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following seems to be a theme in this novel?
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most visited churches in Latin America. Below is an image of the Lady of Guadalupe, who is referred to in this chapter. (This annotation contains an image)
Given what we have learned about Father Vaillant so far, which of the following is likely?
What do you think of Father Vaillant's thinking here? Do you think he is sincere? Why or why not?
Which of the following motivates Father Vaillant more than anything else in his daily life?
The map below, highlighting the Río Grande, gives us an idea of the territory covered by the priests. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do the priests rush to depart?
Domestic violence occurs in all communities, and knows no boundaries of race or economic class. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, tell a trusted adult or call the national hotline found at this website. (This annotation contains a link)
In the highlighted sentence, the author uses _________________ to describe Magdalena's transformation.
What do you learn from Padre Gallegos' impressions of the Acoma Indians? What do you think of the Acomas' resistance to attempts to convert them to Catholicism?
How does the description of the landscape here affect the mood of the narrative?
Given what you know about the encounter between European settlers and indigenous peoples in the New World, do you think the Bishop's respectful views are common?
Quiz One - Archbishop
The description of the rock mesas as cathedrals reinforces the theme of
Below is a photograph of Michelangelo's famous "Creation of Adam" fresco, which is part of his work in the Sistine Chapel. In a few pages, you will be asked to compare it to a few lines in the text. (This annotation contains an image)
How is the highlighted description similar to the painting by Michelangelo shown a few pages earlier?
Below is a painting by Spanish artist Alonso Miguel de Tovar, of St. Joseph,holding the baby Jesus. What are your thoughts about how the missionaries use the holy picture they have to control the Indian population? (This annotation contains an image)
What is causing Friar Baltazar's distress?
Watch the following video about motifs, and think about how Cather uses weather and colors as motifs in this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is not offered as an explanation for the diminishing population in Pecos?
Many Native American of this area built housing on cliffs and in caves. Below is an image from Mesa Verde National Park. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following words describe Jacinto?
Many different Native American tribes have legends involving snakes. Can you think of another culture that has a legend involving a snake?
Which statement best summarizes the Bishop's views towards his Mexican co-religionists?
While not universal, the practice of celibacy among priests in the Catholic Church is centuries-old. Father Martinez is considered a rebel for his sexual practices.
On the previous page, the author includes a description of Padre Martinez singing the Mass beautifully. How does this impact Father Latour's view of him?
Kit Carson (1809-1868) was an American frontiersman whose participation in various military campaigns against Native Americans left thousands of them dead. Keep this in mind as you evaluate how he is depicted in this novel.
Which words best describe the relationship between Father Vaillant and the Bishop?
What is the significance of the character of Father Lucero in this book? Jot down a few ideas and compare with another reader.
Since Father Lucero's name shares the same root as the word "light," the use of candles here may serve as
What do you make of Father Lucero's final words? What do they reveal about him?
What can we infer from the highlighted text?
While this book is fictional, the descriptions of the brutalization of Native Americans are grounded in history. Today, Native American organizations are still struggling for equal rights and opportunities. Do you know which Native tribe(s) lived on your land?
Why do the Olivares brothers want to retain a lawyer?
Father Latour speaks jokingly about his "selfish interest" in wanting Madame Olivares to remain charming, but thinking about his desire for a cathedral reminds us that he indeed does have an interest in the inheritance.
The tone in this chapter has shifted from ____________ to _______________
Quiz Two - Archbishop
Below is a photograph of a tamarisk tree. Can you see why it has captured Father Joseph's heart? Do you have a favorite tree or flower? (This annotation contains an image)
Which word best captures the Father's thinking about Mexicans in the highlighted passage?
What is the importance of the character of Magdalena in this story? Share your ideas with another reader.
Which describes the Smiths' relationship with Sada?
Throughout this novel, Willa Cather uses imagery for different purposes. Watch the following video, and then think about Cather's use of imagery in the final paragraph of this chapter. (This annotation contains a video)
This chapter is mostly about the theme of
What do you think of comparing Father Vaillant to the saints? Does this fit with your image of him? Why or why not?
Follow the link to read a poem by Native American Joy Harjo, and then be prepared to answer a question when you finish this page. (This annotation contains a link)
Which Navajo belief is reflected in the Harjo poem?
The place that inspires the Bishop, pictured below, is one of the largest medieval buildings in Europe. What does this suggest about him and his dreams? (This annotation contains an image)
What seems to be the main point of this chapter?
Popular in many parts of the world, cock-fighting is a blood sport in which two roosters, often equipped with metal spurs, fight each other. It is illegal in the United States.
Which is the best antonym for the word "fired" in this sentence?
The author refers here to two great Italian painters of the Renaissance. Below is a photograph of one of Titian's depictions of Mary. (This annotation contains an image)
What can we infer at this point?
This is in French, and means "I would like to die in Santa Fe." What is the significance of the Bishop speaking in French right now?
Which of the following is playing a large role in this part of the story?
Madame de Sevigné, a seventeenth century French woman, is famous for her letters to her daughter. Below is a photograph of one of the editions. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is not a motif in this book?
How does this flashback help us understand better the character of Father Vaillant?
Thinking about the trajectory of Father Vaillant's life, which of the following words does not capture his personality?
The Bishop mentions two key social justice issues of his time. What has the treatment of these topics in the book revealed about the perspective of author Willa Cather?
The highlighted sentence seems to
Quiz Three - Archbishop
Is this a fitting end to the Archibishop's life? Are you satisfied with this as a conclusion to the book?