Book 9 Chapter 6
Summary: In the last weeks of Latour’s life, he begins to experience a lack of perspective on time: not that he is forgetful or senile, but rather that all his “former states of mind” are “within reach,” meaning he must work harder to concentrate on the present. In the present, Eusabio comes to visit him (on pretense of having business in Santa Fe to attend to). Eusabio knows Latour’s time grows short.
Analysis: Cather presents an intriguing glimpse into the aging Latour’s mind in this chapter, pointing out that Latour is not less mentally capable, as might be expected given his advanced age and sickness, but actually more so. Those around him do not perceive this to be the case, of course—“He could see they thought his mind was failing” (p. 288)—but Latour’s perspective is clear to the readers, since Cather is writing most of the chapter from his point of view. As she writes, Latour “was soon to have done with calendared time” (p. 288). Perhaps this fact, too, reinforces the importance of time as a theme in the text: because Latour has been fully present in the “now” throughout his ministry, building relationships with the important people in his life (Father Joseph, both Olivares, and Kit Carson among others, all, significantly, mentioned in this chapter; p. 289; also Eusabio, who makes a special point of visiting him); because he has maintained a reverent connection to the past (his personal past, the past of the Church, the past of Spanish and Mexican setllers, and the past of the native populations of New Mexico, all seen at various points in the novel); and because he has had the vision needed to look to the future (notably, of course, in his building of the Cathedral)—for all these reasons, Latour, as he is dying, is able to be, in essence, comfortable in all times simultaneously; transcending “calendared time,” which we are told—and not, it seems, negatively—“had already ceased to count for him” (p. 288).