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Written by Kathryn Garia
"The old man smiled. 'I shall not die of a cold, my son. I shall die of having lived."'
The two friends encounter a dying old man in their travels and pay him their service as men of the cloth. The dying man tells them this in defense of the peace he feels in his soul. He is saying that every life ends in death, so it doesn't matter how you get there.
"It was the Indian manner to vanish into the landscape, not to stand out against it. The Hopi villages that were set upon rock mesas were made to look like the rock on which they sat, were imperceptible at a distance."
The Native Americans that the men encounter along their way to New Mexico are a sad people. Forced from their native homes, they feel the full force of rejection and hatred at the hands of the white men. As the narrator notes in this quotation, they survive by camouflage or, in a much more real social sense, by keeping their mouths shut and blending into the background of the U.S. Government's vision.
"The rock, when one came to think of it, was the utmost expression of human need; even mere feeling yearned for it; it was the highest comparison of loyalty in love and friendship. Christ Himself had used that comparison for the disciple to whom He gave the keys of His Church. And the Hebrews of the Old Testament, aways being carried captive into foreign lands, -- their rock was an idea of God, the only thing their conquerors could not take from them."
The desolate Native Americans tribes to which Latour ministers place great value upon the rocks from which they form their homes. For those who own so little, the rocks mean the world. When Latour and Vaillant consider these rocks, however, they see a reflection of their faith. Just like Jesus told people that He was the Rock, on which they should build their philosophical and theological foundations, these natives have literally built their homes upon rock. The rocks to them encompass the only certainty they can claim in life, in just the way Jesus told his disciples to depend upon Him and his teachings exclusively.
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In essence, the title is significant because the speaker is addressing death as a person and warning Death that its power is nothing more than an illusion..... because in the end, there is a higher power.