Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Willa Cathers Death Comes for the Archbishop :: Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop
Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop - A Powerful Non-Novel Responding to the criticism that Death Comes for the Archbishop is not a novel, Willa Cather proposed that the work was a narrative. Her choice of the word narrative signifies that the structure of Death Comes for the Archbishop is closer to that of a biography. A narrative is a type of composition used to recount events over a period of time and can incorporate description as well plot, but it does not necessarily have to. Death Comes for the Archbishop follows the guidelines of a narrative in that it recounts the events of Father Latour's life, beginning when he is appointed to New Mexico and ending with his death. Cather incorporates description into her narration, but does not offer dramatic plot structure. A novel utilizes the elements of narration, specifically including description and plot. Novels also incorporate a climax to the story along with denouement. Plot is unfolded by the actions, speech and thoughts of a character. It is these actions that lead to the climax and the resolution of the story. Based upon the guidelines used to classify a novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop does not meet the requirements and is therefore not a novel. Her work tells a story, but does not offer plot, climax or resolution. The events that are recounted in Cather's work do not build upon each other in order to offer a climax. Each event is no more significant than the one before it; for example, Cather places just as much emphasis on Latour's relationship with Olivares as he does with helping Sade pray (p 175, 213). While the events themselves do not add up to create the dramatic plot structure necessary to call Death Comes for the Archbishop a novel, each individual event experienced by Latour, is in itself a story that includes both climax and resolution. An example of this is Father Latour's death. It begins with him getting sick and living his last days, building up to his final moments and culminating in his death. The resolution to this individual event is the bell tolling and Latour being placed in the church he built. Each event in Latour's life does have plot and resolution, creating difficulty in not calling it a novel. However, if the work is examined as a whole piece, from beginning to end, it is evident that while it fits the boundaries of narration, it does not meet the qualifications of a novel.