Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Willa Cather frequently gave her characters suggestive names. Consider several characters whose names suggest their traits or circumstances.

Authors often combine some of the characteristics of two or more real person to fashion one fictional one. Consider Ántonia Shimerda as an instance of this practice.

What is Cather’s attitude toward social change as revealed in her novels? Nostalgic? Accepting? Resistant? Ambivalent? Does it vary from one work to another?

Discuss Cather’s work ethic as revealed in her life and in the characterization of the professor in The Professor’s House.

Describe some of the “unique secondary characters” in Death Comes to the Archbishop.

Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom published a book about Cather in 1962 titled Willa Cather’s Gift of Sympathy. What evidence of her sympathy do you find in a novel of your choice?