Lonely in New Mexico In Willa Cather's novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, Latour encounters many obstacles that hinder his ability to fulfill his duties as a bishop. Loneliness, among the many, proves to be a major influential factor in his life. Loneliness is often associated with the idea of being solitary and isolated, but in this novel there are many other characteristics that describe it. One can be in the presence of numerous people and yet still be lonely. It can be the complete opposite too. One can be in utter solitude and at the same time, at total ease with his own being. They don't have to be isolated or solitary to experience this. Loneliness not only incorporates the idea of being alone but also captures the feeling of having nobody to point out and share one's accomplishment with. One's surroundings and the people he or she associated with tend to influence loneliness.
Loneliness is shown as the lacking of that special something deep inside the human heart. In this novel, Willa Cather shows that there are essential causes for Archbishop Latour's loneliness, and that it is extremely difficult to overcome.
After being appointed to the status of Apostolic Vicar of New Mexico, Bishop Latour comes face to face with his new unfamiliar diocese, and loneliness takes its toll on him. There are so many obstacles that influence this emotion. There is a language barrier between him and his people, weather and transportation problems, the hardship of finding food, learning and working with new traditions, and confrontations with people like Padre Martinez. Latour feels a longing to be back home in France. He misses the beautiful landscape and his friends and family. Loneliness frequently becomes a part of one's life when something they have known their entire lives is taken away. In Latour's case, it is his home. There is a lack of familiarity between him and his new surroundings. When this happens, Latour's human nature kicks in, and there is the emotion of being alone. He experiences this because he doesn't have the feeling of being at one with his environment. No one really helps him with this transition.
The loss of Bishop Latour's best friend and companion, Father Vaillant, is a crushing blow that significantly brings upon his overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Man, as a whole, experience the most depressing point in their lives when they lose someone that is dear to them. Latour and Vaillant share an unspoken bond that is physically broken when Father Vaillant takes on the challenge in Colorado. Vaillant is his only friend from his homeland and the only one that can share his feelings of homesickness. Vaillant understands him better than anyone else. But when Vaillant leaves, he has to go through all his struggles by himself. He doesn't have anyone close to him that shares his heritage. He has no one to share his happiness, sadness, or accomplishments with. What good is anything if you don't have anyone to share it with? Many qualities are gained through experiencing loneliness in the end of the process of death. Loneliness is clearly felt because there is a lack of movement, and there is the loss of the transient life of the missionary. At the end of the death process, it is just Latour, his memories, and his faith. This brings loneliness to the extreme because he can only experience death by himself. Even though it is a hard struggle, much is to be gained through enduring this conflict. Latour confronts loneliness by reflection on his own life experiences. He uses his faith to overcome his feeling of loneliness. The first step to overcoming one's feeling of solitude is realizing the inevitable faith that we all must suffer. Latour does this and takes it even further. He knows he is going to die and realizes the significance of his accomplishments. He is satisfied with his efforts in New Mexico.
Most of the factors that influence our feeling of loneliness and depression are unavoidable. The key is not to get swallowed up by this overwhelming feeling when we are confronted by it. We must make the best out of these emotional inconveniences. Our loneliness here on earth is only a test to become closer to God that we can either pass or fail. Only God can completely fill that emptiness in our hearts. We must realize that we are never really lonely because God is always with us.