Cather’s Treatment of Colonial and 19th- Century History and Ideology in Death Comes for the Archbishop


Presentation (Handout), 2003
5 Pages

Excerpt

Cather’s Treatment of Colonial and 19th- Century History and Ideology in
Death Comes for the Archbishop

Colonial History:

- Spanish Colonial History of New Mexico Alluded to in Narrative:

references to Spanish Colonial History in the narrative are mostly of mythological character, mainly concerning the achievements of Spanish Catholic Missionaries and their struggles with the native population “Our Spanish fathers made good martyrs” (p. 8) → Spanish Franciscans were among the first to explore the southwest pueblo country in the 16th century and persisted in their efforts preaching Christianity and establishing missions, though many of them suffered martyrdom (killed by the natives) → by 1630 they had converted about 20000 Indians and established more than 50 missions in the Rio Grande Valley Great Indian Revolt of 1680 (p.152) → close to 400 settlers and 21 of 33 priests massacred by Pueblo Indians under the leadership of Popé → missionary work was destroyed until the re­conquest of the territory by Don Diego de Vargas in 1692-93 Church at Àcoma → built in early 17th century by Fray Ramirez and his followers → Cather seems to criticize this missioners through the figure of Latour , who expresses the suspicion that Fray Ramirez let the Àcoma build the church out of his worldly ambition and not according to the needs of the Indians

Historical Personalities in Death comes for the Archbishop:

Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy and Father Joseph Projectus Machebeuf:

- historical prototypes of Cather’s fictionalized characters Bishop Latour and Father Vaillant
- her primary historical source was a biography of Father Machebeuf, written by W.J. Howlett
- the biography was full of information about the lives and works of the missionary priests in the Southwest, documented by letters written by Father Machebeuf to his sister in France and by other contemporary accounts, both clerical and secular
- Cather follows the lives of the two priests closely, except for few major changes

illustration not visible in this excerpt

- as one of the most important and most famous Catholic missionaries in the U.S., Lamy has become a kind of uncanonized saint in the Southwest, so it is difficult to see a real man through the tradition that has grown up

it is likely that Cather made her fictionalized character more praiseworthy and less flawed than his historical prototype

Padre Antonio José Martinez:

- Padre Martinez is one of the most controversial figures in the history of New Mexico
- some critics claim that Cather has done great injustice to Padre Martinez through making him

a villain in her narrative

he is called a “dictator” (P.193), “little potentate”(P.156),

accused of leading and planning the revolt against U.S. military in 1847, in which General

Bent and other Americans were massacred (P.32, 139,150)

accused of having managed to profit financially by acquiring the property of the Taos

Indians who were executed for their role in the rebellion (P.139)

accused of leading an immoral life (P.76, 142f., 161)

accused of rebelling against Rome and the authority of the Pope

- historically, Padre Martinez’ conflict with the new Bishop came toward the end of an otherwise praiseworthy carrier

he was a natural leader, who ruled his parish in religion as well as in politics and fought for the improvement of his people situation

he worked on the education by opening schools for boys and even girls and establishing the first printing office in New Mexico

he refused to collect heavy church tithes from his poor parishioners, since he saw the catholic church as an institution of benefiting and not enslaving people, and opposed large land grants, claiming that the land should go to the people

his role in the Taos Rebellion of 1874 was never documented, the accusations were based mainly on rumors

during his life nobody ever attacked him for immorality, the rumors about his illegitimate children came up after his death

[...]


Excerpt out of 5 pages

Details

Title
Cather’s Treatment of Colonial and 19th- Century History and Ideology in Death Comes for the Archbishop
College
RWTH Aachen University  (English Department)
Author
Year
2003
Pages
5
Catalog Number
V126102
ISBN (eBook)
9783640314928
File size
383 KB
Language
English
Tags
Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
Quote paper
Jelena Vukadinovic (Author), 2003, Cather’s Treatment of Colonial and 19th- Century History and Ideology in Death Comes for the Archbishop, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/126102

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