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Western Nature in Literature

Nature is a major theme throughout all of the stories we have read so far this semester, weighing in heavily in the subject matter of each novel. Despite this common thread, nature is handled quite differently in each story, with obvious varied effects in the story. Willa Cather uses the nature of the southwest as an overwhelming presence that stuns any who approach it, while John Steinbeck uses nature with his characters as one would use water with a goldfish in his bowl. Norman Maclean creates nature as a religious experience, and most interestingly, Wallace Stegner uses nature least of all, yet uses the few scenes of nature he provides to jar and jab the plot into advancing. Each of these portrayals of nature is radically different, but each allows the reader a closer glimpse into the natural world of the west.Examples of the overwhelming and awesome power of nature are abundant in Willa Cather's Death Comes For The Archbishop. There are so many of them that one can virtually flip open to any page in the novel to find an example of the sense of nature's awesome power, but some are more amazing than others. "Father Latour lay with his ear to this crack for a long while, despite the cold that arose from it. He told himself he was listening to one of the oldest voices of the earth. What he heard was the sound of a great underground river, flowing through a resounding cavern. The water was far, far below, perhaps as deep as the foot of the mountain, a flood moving in utter blackness under the ribs of antediluvian rock. It was not a rushing noise, but the sound of a great flood moving with majesty and power." (Cather 129-130) Other examples in Cather's writing are not so dramatic, but they highlight the ever-present beauty of nature in the southwest. "The water thus diverted was but a tiny thread of the full creek; the main stream ran down the arroyo over a white rock bottom, with green willows and deep hay grass and brillian...

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