Bless Me, Ultima: A Relatable Coming of Age Story
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, is a first-person narrative of a six-year-old boy, Antonio Marez. As he grows up and experiences the hardships of school, sickness, friends, and religion, he is trying to decide who he wants to be when he grows up. His mother is Catholic and wants him to become a priest. His father wants him to follow his footsteps as a vaquero. At the same time, Ultima, a family friend and well know healer, encourages him to make his own decisions. “I love them both, and yet I am of neither. I wonder which life I will choose” (Ch. 4 Pg. 41) are words spoken by young but wise Antonio. By the end of the novel, Antonio realizes that only he can decide who he wants to be when he is older. The author uses life experiences, dreams, and a life mentor to help Antonio come to this realization.
In chapter five of the book, Antonio, his mother and two sisters, Deborah and Theresa, are traveling to El Puerto to visit family “I dressed and raced downstairs. Today is the day we went to El Puerto.” (Ch.5 Pg.45) Antonio’s excitement is stemming from the chance to finally see his family. This is important because he is on a road of self-discovery and independence. This event is significant because he is able to experience his Mother’s culture first hand. I can personally relate because every time I get a chance to visit my family I can not wait to see them and always hope to stay as long as possible. The time I spend with my family will help me decide who I want to be as I mature.
While family plays a big role in maturity, nothing compares to the influences of those that have raised you. Antonio’s mother and father are getting him ready for his first day of school and his mother say “you are to bring honor to your family, do nothing that will bring disrespect on our good name.” (Ch.6 Pg.53) Antonio’s parents value their good name and do not want him to jeopardize it by any means. Honor and respect are common themes in many books. In Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Charlie Bucket honors his family by remaining loyal and honest. His attempt to keep his family’s good name led his family to the ultimate honor. In both stories, the boys are influenced by their closest relatives and choose to honor their good name.
Parents all over the world want the best for their children; whether that be the best job, the best spouse or best education. Parents do not want to see their children fail. There is no exception to this expectation in Bless Me, Ultima. Throughout the book, Antonio’s parents argue over who he is going to be when he grows up “every day I grow older…as I grow I will have to choose either to be my mother’s priestess or my father’s son.” (Ch.4 Pg.41) His parents feel they know the best route for Antonio’s life. Throughout the story, they try to steer him into their views for his life. By the end, Antonio comes to the realization that the best route for him should be decided by him. “Sometime in the future, I would have to build my own dream out of those things that were so much a part of my childhood.” (Ch. 22 Pg. 261) Whilst parent viewpoints are influential, their most important role is to teach their children the morals necessary for whichever path their child ultimately chooses.
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Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, is a first-person narrative of a six-year-old boy, Antonio Marez. As he grows up and experiences the hardships of school, sickness, friends, and religion, […]