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Discussion in 'Short Story Books' started by Libra, Sep 19, 2008.
Discussion starts Sept 19,2009.
Linky whoever wants tojoin us.
A Death in the Desert by Willa Cather
I just finished the story, Libra. I'm going to have to think about this one.
Maybe Monday,me too I am halfway through only.
It's not a difficult read, but I feel that I'm missing something.
No,it's not difficult,my mind is still jumbled from Pig Tales.
The story appears to be very straight forward, but it leads you to a series of questions. At first, I wondered if Adriance was still alive when his brother was in Adriance's old room-the music room. It was also unclear what injustice his brother did to the poor lady. Add to the mix, Everett's own feelings for her, and you have one complicated brew. You can just imagine how torn he was at having to act as a soother of his brother's actions, and of her love for him, while overlooking Everett's confession of love and devotion to her. A very complicated brew here-I will look forward to untangling these things with our other fine readers.
SFG75, the man of many faces.
I didn't think Adriance did anything to her. It seemed to me that Katharine cared for Adriance much in the same way Everett cares for her.
Anyway, the whole story seems sad to me. Everett is constantly reminded that he lives in his brothers shadow, didn't have any success with the ladies because he was shy, and of course his love for Katharine.
I also couldn't but help notice that Everett was helping her remember some bygone time. She was quite nostalgic for the city and its excitement-hence the line about wanting to die in Harlem. She also became enthralled with Everett performing his brother's piece. In seeing this desperation and in knowing inevitable, it's clearly crushing to Everett. Rock hard seriousness.
I think it was the whole the reason Charlie invitted Everett out to the house.
I thought her outfitting that room to look like one of Adriance's music rooms was a little errie. I guess it all about the way she felt about him.
I read it - well most of it, I had to skip all those long descriptions, yawn.
It did nothing for me. It appeared to do nothing for the main characters either.
I found the story good.
This is a quote that has stayed with me:"..when I could get her everything on earth she wanted, and she hadn't a wish my $80 a month didn't cover;and now, when I've got a little property together ,I can't buy her a nights sleep."
Katharine loved Adriance and was content just being around him,I think it was one sided the love,Adriance was married so Katharine took what she could and seemed satisfied at the time.
Everett felt her pain, like Robert said, he knew what it meant to be inthe shadows.He stayed there with her,to comfort her,even though once again he knew it was because he looked like his brother.
I wasn't really into the story but I appreciated it a little more when I re-read.
I noticed that the author uses descriptive terms like gray-and-yellow desert, ruins of deserted towns, spindling trees and sickly vines, wilderness of sand, to contrast the town of Cheyenne, Wyoming with New York and foreign cities (and perhaps to echo Katherine's condition).
Katharine obsesses over Adriance and Everett pines for Katharine. Everett is willing to play a substitute for his brother but it changes him. It seemed to me, that by the story's end, his attitude is a bit harder towards those who notice his fraternal resemblance.
"It was not the first time that his duty had been to comfort, as best he could, one of the broken things his brother's imperious speed had cast aside and forgotten" and "he felt the breath of that whirlwind of flame in which Adriance passed, consuming all in his path, and himself even more resolutely than he consumed others. Then he looked down at this white, burnt-out brand that lay before him" This tells me much about [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Adriance and his relations with Katherine and women.
Sometimes the sibling in the shadows is the stronger one,they just take a little while longer to come out.
I also noticed the color descriptions and think it had to do with Katharine's condition.
It was worth the read.
Oh, I love this story! What a treat to find a discussion ongoing here. Reading it again after so many years, it still amazes me what a thorough character study she could create in so few pages. And how the most brilliant characterization is that of Adriance, the elephant in the room for both Everett and Katharine. Here's the portrait of someone who breezes through the lives of people who adore him, while he gives them little more than the time of day, albeit perfectly, tactfully, charmingly, and ultimately falsely. Adriance, for all the love he has inspired, loves only himself. While Katharine and Everett have both lived their lives through the radiance! of Adriance (what a name can do!), they both realize something he never will:
The perfect picture of a profligate, from the sidelines.
Flor,nice to see a new face here,any suggestions for next discussion are always welcome.
The last meeting between Katharine and Everett is just amazing. Her acceptance of her fate, and her display of grace in the face of it, was a big highlight for me in reading it. The lines just jumped out and hit you good with intense feeling and emotion.
This last line reminds me a lot of Virginia Woolf''s To the Lighthouse when the father steps out of the boat. It dramatically shows courage in the face of finality and squaring up to it. Hard to explain really. . . .
SFG75,yesterday Melissa Etheridge was on a show and said almost the same thing /idea about the acceptance of what life brings you. (she is a cancer survivor for 4 years now) .Just reminded me of your post.
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