Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Research the structure and hierarchy of the Catholic Church. For example, what are dioceses? And what are bishops, vicars, and cardinals? How do religious orders fit into the structure? Create an easy-to-follow chart that explains the distribution of authority and functions within the church. Include a brief write-up of how this chart sheds light on at least one issue in the novel.

Choose one southwestern Native American tribe, and research its belief system. Prepare a presentation in which you explain the tribe’s religious views, and compare and contrast them with Catholicism. In which areas would you expect Latour and Vaillant to have the least trouble making converts? In which areas would you expect the most resistance?

Artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Rhonda Angel, Ritch Gaiti, Gary Myers, and Albert Dreher have found inspiration in the land and culture of the Southwest. Choose six works (by the same or different artists) that somehow illustrate Death Comes for the Archbishop. Create a museum guide as if these works were on display specifically to complement the novel. Write explanations (ideally with some quoted material from the novel) to help museum-goers appreciate the exhibit.

Kit Carson is a good friend to Latour in the novel. Read about this real-life legend and write five journal entries as if he were writing about Latour and Vaillant. Include a brief biographical profile as an introduction to your work.