Influenced by Land and Man: Willa Cather and Catherine Porter, Writers of the Southwest

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Cowboys and Indians come to mind for many people when the idea of Southwestern literature is presented. The scene of a saloon shootout and John Wayne materialize. Southwestern literature is more than the O.K. Corral. Writers such as Willa Cather and Catherine Porter do not have the prototypical storyline stated above, but they are writers of Southwestern literature. In order to understand why Willa Cather and Catherine Porter should be considered a part of Southwestern literature, one must consider the difference between the American West and Southwest and understand that their writing is deeply influenced by the landscape and culture of the Southwest and centered on issues faced by inhabitants of the region. Many people mistake about…show more content…
“In all his travels the Bishop had seen no country like this. From the flat red sea of sand rose great rock mesas... The sandy soil of the plain had a light sprinkling of junipers, and was splotched with masses of blooming rabbit brush,-- that oliver-coloured plant that grows in high waves like a tossing sea, at this season covered with a thatch of bloom, yellow as gorse, or orange like marigolds.” 94 Both women describe the land of desert with such vividness that one is not left with the idea of a barren, sandy soil but an environment that is rich with history as well as life. This life and history of the land are a part of the culture. The Southwestern culture is one tied closely to the myth and magic of the land. The merciless nature of the land has also brought the same attitude to the natives. The culture of the southwest is a culture centered around death. When Baltazar kills an Indian boy for spilling soup, the Acoma people decide a line has been crossed and retribution is necessary. They throw him over the cliff where they throw their refuse and broken things. This is meant to show that although he once served a purpose, he is also something in their society that is broken beyond repair. The natives harbor no ill will towards the Church afterwards with the simple understanding that “everything has its day.” 113 In Porter’s Hacienda too,

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