A Death in the Desert

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"A Death in the Desert"
Author Willa Cather
Country United States
Language English
Published in Scribner's Magazine
Publication type Magazine
Publication date 1903

"A Death in the Desert" is a short story by Willa Cather. It was first published in The Scribner's in January 1903.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Everett is on a train from Holdrege, Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is a man that looks like his older prodigy brother Adriance--this similarity haunts him throughout the entire novel and robs him of his own personality. He will always be Adriance's brother.


  • Everett Hilgarde
  • Charley Gaylord
  • Two girls on the train.
  • Adriance Hilgarde
  • Katharine Gaylord
  • Maggie Gaylord
  • The Parson
  • Diana, a chaste actress in New York City.

Allusions to other works[edit]

Moreover, Gussie Davis's song In The Baggage Coach Ahead is mentioned - albeit 'in' is elided.[2]

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

It has been argued that the title of the story was influenced by Willa Cather's reading of Robert Browning.[3]

Allusions to Alexandre Dumas, fils' La dame aux camelias and Lucretius's De rerum natura have also been found.[4]


  1. ^ Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, University of Nebraska Press; Rev Ed edition, 1 Nov 1970, page 217
  2. ^ Stouck, David, 'Review of The Troll Garden, by Willa Cather', Great Plains Quarterly, 4:278
  3. ^ Bernice Slote, 'Willa Cather and Her First Book', Willa Cather, April Twilights, University of Nebraska Press, 1968, page xi
  4. ^ Woodress, James, The Troll Garden by Willa Cather, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983b, p. 126

External links[edit]