Bless Me Ultima
Self-Identification in Bless Me Ultima
In this excerpt from Bless Me, Ultima, Antonio struggles to define his identity as his parents pull him in different directions. Through strong images, the deliberate structure of the language, and powerful symbols, Rudolfo Anaya presents the idea that in order to find one’s true identity, he or she must synchronize known truths.
Anaya’s use of strong and contrasting images adds to the visualization of the struggle Antonio faces. The first set of contrasting images comes from Antonio’s parents. On one side, his father stands “on the corpse-strewn shore,” and on the other, his mother descends “on a huge golden moon that came down from the heavens.” Which side should he pick? This exemplifies Antonio’s struggle in two different aspects. Firstly, his mother and father are on opposite sides, one on land and one on the moon, and he does not know which side to go to; therefore, he stays in the middle as a compromise. The image of each of them yelling at him from opposing sides while Antonio remains in the center shows how Antonio is not ready to compromise his identity search by agreeing to one side or the other. Secondly, the images of his mother, golden and beautiful on the moon and his father, miserable on the corpse-strewn shore of sinners, demonstrates Antonio’s religious struggle as well. With the image of the golden carp, this religious struggle escalates more, as shown by the passage “and all around him were the people he had saved.” The images of his mother and father in heaven and hell contrast with the image of the magnificent golden carp. Antonio is not sure which side to believe, the religion his family gave him, or the religion his friend gave him. He is able to synchronize these when Ultima comes in, as “the power from the heaven and the power from the earth obeyed her.” Ultima is able to control both sides, both types of religion, creating a feeling of binding together the two beliefs into one world.
The stream-of-consciousness way that this dream sequence is presented adds to the confusion of the passage, and therefore creates more havoc in Antonio’s mind. When a character talks in this selection, no quotation marks are present. For example, in one line, after Antonio sees his mother, Anaya writes (as Antonio) “Mother, I cried, you are saved! We are all saved!” This deliberate elimination of quotation marks and pauses demonstrates the theme of the passage that everything is connected. It also adds to the somewhat confusing nature of the passage, creating more chaos inside Antonio’s mind which screams with need for organization. Antonio has multiple things happening at once: his mother’s yelling, his father’s yelling, Ultima’s lurking, the golden carp swimming along the sidelines. Not only is Antonio confused, but also he feels the need to remain loyal to everyone and everything, for fear of punishment. This confusion inside Antonio’s head reinforces the idea that right now, Antonio’s mind is a mess of information, but in order to create his identity, he must step back and see how all these little details are related.
Water in this excerpt serves as a powerful symbol of knowledge, which then adds to Antonio’s identity struggle. In the beginning of the passage, Antonio “Walked by the shore of a great lake.” This symbolizes his search for knowledge. He searches for a base off of which he can discover and form his identity. Later, “the moon rose and its powers pulled at the still waters of the lake.” This represents the two sides of Antonio (one being the moon) fighting for the knowledge Antonio seeks. Gained from his family, Antonio has a base of knowledge, but the two sides are now opposing each other and attempting to spin the knowledge Antonio possesses in their favor, to make him choose their side. His mother and father go on to argue about which water Antonio was baptized in, and Antonio begs “Oh please tell me which is the water that runs through my veins.” Interestingly, he is not speaking to his mother or his father, but to anyone that is able to answer the question. He wants anyone to help him form his identity, anyone who would truly guide him without a biased view. Through his veins, the water boils as Antonio “sweat[s] blood,” symbolizing an overload of information without any way to organize or make sense of it. Finally, everything changed. Calmly, Ultima connects the symbol of water with the theme of syncretism when she says “the sweet water of the moon which falls as rain is the same water that gathers into rivers and flows to fill the seas.” She is saying that the water that runs through Antonio’s veins is not strictly his mother’s or his father’s, but a combination of both, which Antonio then can use as a guideline for forming his dual identity.
Whether someone has multiple identities, or whether someone has only one, their basic knowledge must somehow become personal to form said identity. All things considered, Antonio forms his identity on the basis of his knowledge gained from his parents, symbolized by the river. Rudolfo Anaya uses powerful contrasting images, a consistent symbol, and a stream-of-consciousness style to highlight Antonio’s struggle to find himself in his chaotic setting.
Influence Of Ultima in Bless Me Ultima
A Chinese proverb says, “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” A child’s views and thoughts are dictated by the society and affected by other people. As each child matures and grows up, he or she each needs a teacher who can guide him or her through the confusing path of life. In Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya, Ultima is a spiritual guide who leads and mentors Tony through the struggles of adolescent and demonstrates how life and nature intertwine to create a harmonic state of mind. Under Ultima’s counseling, Tony is able to navigate and overcome the social conflicts and dilemmas that are present in his life. Ultima influences Tony’s life by escorting him through the process of growing-up, showing him the importance of doing what is morally right and teaching him the meaning of nature.
First, Ultima purposely let Tony witness the death of Lupito to teach him the reality and the horrors of life. Ultima intentionally permits Tony to witness the dreaded incident to enhance his knowledge and to break his immaculate mindset of the world. After the incident, Ultima tells Tony, “‘you are growing, and growth is change. Accept the change, make it part of your strength’” (259). Ultima could’ve saved Tony from the Lupito affair altogether but she did absolutely nothing to prevent him from seeing it. Demonstrated by Ultima sending the owl to pluck Tenorio’s eyes, Ultima has all the power and ability to avert Tony from witnessing the tragic event—but she didn’t. Ultima wants to take this horrific incident and make it into a lesson that can be learned and studied upon. By experiencing this tragedy, Tony gained valuable knowledge about why and how to learn from people’s mistakes and make those changes in part of his strength. Ultima also tells Tony that it is essential to experience the numerous things in life but he needs to be aware that “‘life is filled with sadness when a boy grows to be a man. But as you grow into manhood you must not despair of life, but gather strength to sustain you…’” (259). Ultima tells Tony that growing into a man might be filled with sadness, but he must take those events and gain knowledge from it. The killing of Lupito is the beginning of the chain of events that led to Tony for who he is now. As the story progresses, Tony witnesses and experiences more and more of these similar tragic events that eventually make him question if the world that he lives in is really flawless. This conflict in ideology shows the transition from the viewpoint of a child to that of an adolescent. Tony responds to these questions by further inquiring and analyzing the reliability and truthfulness of the catholic religion, faith and biblical teachings. All these demonstrate that Tony has dramatically matured and they are a good indicator of how he is changing from a kid to a young adult.
Second, Ultima teaches Tony that when in doubt, doing what is moral is always the right choice. When Ultima goes to Lucas’ house to cast out the demon spirit, she brings Tony along to witness it. Throughout the duration of the exorcism, Ultima proves to Tony that “the smallest bit of good can stand against all powers of evil in the world and it will emerge triumphant” (98). Ultima teaches him a lesson that not the priest, his parents, nor his teacher can. Through tangible proofs and experiments, Tony learns that doing what is right is very essential. Tony displays this knowledge by not committing evil deeds with his gang of friends. Tony’s friends have committed a lot of wicked actions such as peeing on the church, abusing the catholic religion and other sinful actions. He knows that doing what is morally right is far more important than doing things in the conventional way. Ultima also shows him that goodness can always surpass evil works. During the process of extracting the curse from Lucas, Ultima sticks pins into the three dolls and says to them, “‘you have done evil… But good is stronger than evil’” (105). Ultima is saying that not only can goodness overcome evil, but it will always surpass it. The witches curse and perform evil actions because they seek pleasure from the pains of the victims. Ultima eventually got rid of all the witches through her curse of goodness. In the long term, doing good deeds will always override evil ones.
Third, through his interaction with the breaking of the Tellez Ranch curse, Tony learns the wonders of nature under Ultima’s guidance. On the way to the ranch, Ultima explains to Tony that “the greater immortality is in the freedom of the man, and that freedom is best nourished by the noble expanse of the land and air and pure, white sky” (242). Tony now understands that when a person is with nature, he is free of all the burdens and struggles in life. Although plants don’t actually remove curses in our society, the author wants to relay a message that nature is a respite for the troubled and freedom for the chained. Tony has learned many things about nature such as him “talk[ing] to the tree and ask[ing] it for its medicine, as Ultima had instructed [him] to do with every living plant” (245). Tony has learned to respect nature and not to abuse it. In the book, Ultima performs many cures and miracles in which nature plays a very big role. Anaya wants to prove that nature has a very magical remedy that can affect and alter a person’s behavior for the better. When life and nature harmonize it can provide intangible relieves and a peaceful state of mind to people.
Ultima influences Tony’s life by escorting him through the process of growing-up, showing him the importance of doing what is morally right and teaching him the meaning of nature. In Bless Me Ultima, Tony has accumulated great knowledge that wasn’t possible without Ultima’s guidance. A child needs a teacher to guide and direct him or her onto the right path in life. One cannot learn the life lessons overnight, but can only live through these events to understand the true meaning of life.
Good And Evil in Bless Me Ultima
The polarized symbolism of good and evil in Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima
Hailed as one of the greatest Chicano novels of all time, Bless me Ultima, written by the American novelist Rudolfo Anaya, brings forth a mesmerizing blend of some of the most important and polemic topics invariably present in every aspect of modern human society. Through the coming of age of the main protagonist, a boy of seven, Antonio “Tony” Márez, Anaya has managed to portray growing up through a charming yet brutal world of magical realism, of good and evil, of life and death, of the old and the new, as well as craft a balanced story with sharply opposing main motifs. The aforementioned are juxtaposed throughout the book, leading to a, or rather many, conclusions the reader is able to draw from it. This paper is structured in a way as to clearly illustrate the relationships between some of the most symbolic characters and their influences on the life of the impressionable main protagonist, and to explore the ultimate power of what Anaya considers the most important factor in human interaction and coexistence – the power of the human heart and its kindness.
“And that is what Ultima tried to teach me, that the tragic consequences of life can be overcome by the magical strength that resides in the human heart” (Anaya, 261). Ultima, or la Grande, is the old curandera – the healer – whose origins are rooted deep in Mexican tradition and folklore. She serves as the teacher, healer and guide to little Antonio and his family, as well as the neighboring folk. She is presented to the reader as a character with almost unlimited knowledge, magical in many of its elements. Yet as the story progresses, more and more does the reader find her to be a woman with nothing magical about her, but gifted with mere human knowledge and the kindness of her heart. She dejects any sort of fundamentalism, be it educational and scientific or religious, yet rather insists upon Antonio to witness both the brutal and the beautiful of life, the good and evil – the characters of Narciso and Tenorio respectively – and offers naught but guidance. From the beginning of the story, upon Ultima’s arrival to the Márez family house, she acts as a safety upon which little Tony, at that point at the fragile age of seven, depends on for advice. He is torn between the legacy of his father, the Márez part of the family, the free-spirited, free-roaming men of the llano, and his mother’s, the Luna, the religious, quiet, hard-working farmers. “I am sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody” (Salinger 20). Yet the advice that Ultima provides for Tony is not one in the form of orders or preaching, but sharing the fragments of her knowledge as an attempt for him to understand and perceive things on his own.
Gabriel Márez, Antonio’s father, is a roamer, a man with wind in his blood and nomads and travelers as his ancestors. He is secular, a hard-worker, grounded, a habitual drinker, unlike Antonio’s mother, his polar opposite in more than just religious views. That opposition of attitudes and views has confused and affected Antonio from the earliest thinking age, as he himself claims, the age of seven. His father is the protector of the family and its provider, a man full of virtues and dreams. At the end of the novel, he also serves as the one whom Antonio turns to for advice.
Through the character of Tenorio, an evil saloon owner, the reader bears witness to the murder of innocents, of the bad at times triumphing over good, horror, intimidation, fear, trepidation – Tenorio is the, besides evil itself – the penultimate symbol of the rotten in the human heart. He is clad in black and of horrendous, pale features, always scheming, plotting and with a mad desire upon killing Ultima. Tenorio has three daughters, all as evil and wicked as he is – Anaya created the daughters as a sort of counterweight to the three brothers of Antonio, good men, loving and caring men, but badly scarred by the war in Europe they went off to fight.
The three brothers, León, Andrew and Eugene, add the anti-war dimension to the story. Each of them is a living testament of how war and evil affect the man’s soul. León and Eugene, soon upon arriving back home from the war, urged by their restless Márez spirit and the restlessness of soul the horrors of battle instilled them with, took off for California – leaving their Márez father, who had always dreamed of moving with his family to the land “where there is work-” (Anaya 3) and where “the land flows with milk and honey-” (51). “My father’s dream was to gather his sons around him and move westward to the land of the setting sun, to the vineyards of California” (14). As regular life became intolerable for them, as it often does after one returns from war, they turned to prostitution and gambling and gallivanting around Los Angeles and Las Vegas in search for quick pleasures. At first, Andrew, the brother who Antonio felt he could relate to the most, had decided to stay home and finish school, not follow in the footsteps of his other two brothers. But very soon he turned to prostitution and drinking and gambling as a way of making sense of the everyday mundane, and soon left home.
Through the concise descriptions of the five characters or character groups: Antonio, Antonio’s parents, his brothers, Ultima, and Tenorio, it is possible to extrapolate, if not conclude, the crown motif of Anaya’s novel. It is open to many an interpretation – regardless of what one says is correct – ranging from an anti-war novel, a novel about the Mexican culture and the difficulties the Mexican people had adapting to a new age, culture and lifestyle, about that which is transcending the obvious, about power, about the good and the bad of religion, the magic of nature – all of which is correct. Yet when they are interwoven with one another, as Anaya had masterfully done, one is soon introduced to a much broader understanding of the story. From the very beginning all the sub-stories and the sub-motifs serve their function as story aids, in order to propel the book forward and offer a clear polarization of the various symbols: Ultima as the good against Tenorio as the bad, war as the horrific against the village life as peaceful and tranquil, the golden carp which represents nature and the palpable beauty of the Earth against the Catholic church and God. Narciso, a brilliantly portrayed supporting character, the lonely village drunk, with a garden more beautiful and abundant than one had ever seen – his soul and kind heart – represents innocence in its truest form. He is brutally and cowardly murdered by Tenorio, the evil, later to be avenged by the good, one of Antonio’s uncles. At the very end of the novel, as evil begets evil, Tenorio manages to kill Ultima’s spirit – which Anaya portrayed as an owl – therefore, killing her in the process. On her deathbed, Ultima says to Antonio:
My work was to do good. I was to heal the sick and show them the path of goodness. But I was not to interfere with the destiny of any man. Those who wallow in evil and brujeria cannot understand this. They create a disharmony that in the end reaches out and destroys life–With the passing away of Tenorio and myself the meddling will be done with, harmony will be reconstituted. That is good. Bear him [Tenorio] no ill will– I accept my death because I accepted to work for life– (260).
Rudolfo Anaya neared the conclusion of his novel with this powerful paragraph, a brilliant portrayal of how, whatever comes upon one in life, a good heart with the other man in mind as much as himself shall lead one to a peaceful afterlife.
Because it contained so many different elements, the novel has been open to a variety of readings by a number of critics and many differ differently in the depth of meaning perceived within the novel. One reader-critic, Dyan Donnelly viewed the book as unproblematic:
This book is a simple and directly told story, and a moving one as well.
Basically it is the story of a small boy, Antonio Marez, growing up in
the Southwest. The novel deals with his religious crisis, the several hard
jolts shoving him into manhood, a theme that is not unfamiliar. (114).
In his essay “The Evolution of Chicano Literature” Raymund A Paredes see the novel as “reminiscent in some ways of Joy’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, equating the “boy, Antonio, who is coming of age during the 1940’s in a remote village in central New Mexico” (67) to the young artist, Stephen Dedalus. Paredes, however, examines Anaya’s use of folklore and legend, contending that Antonio is immersed in oral tradition, “by way of suggesting that for the Chicano, folklore is the foundation of a cultural identity” (68), which serves to create a”distinctive cultural ambience” (68). This attention to the use of folklore gives Paredes’ interpretation an added depth beyond Donnelly’s. Through his focus on the use of folklore, Paredes deals with one of the subplots at work within the novel, many which show the importance of the past in any search for identity. Yet what Paredes fails to do is acknowledge the underlying forces of acculturation that create the need to search so intensely for a cultural identity in the first place. It is a novel of many things: it is the story of a boy’s journey through the rites of passage as he moves into manhood; it is a story of the myths and folklore of a people holding tenaciously onto a past that is quickly slipping away; it is a story of beginnings and endings, but to me it was a book on life passages.
The Impact Of Rites Of Passage On Antonio In Bless Me Ultima By Rudolfo Anaya
In the novel Bless Me Ultima, Antonio experiences rite of passage issues. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a rite of passage is “a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone’s life, especially birth, puberty, marriage, and death.” Throughout the book, Antonio experiences moments that marks a rite of passage, but there are moments when things do not go as planned which caused complications for him. Although Antonio is very young, he has witnessed the death of four people, had problems with his first confession and first Holy Communion, and had lost his innocence.
Antonio had witnessed the death of Lupito, Narciso, Florence, and Ultima. Lupito was the first death that Antonio witnessed at the young age of only six years old. It wasn’t just a death he witnessed, more so the fact that he witnessed everything that happened that night. On page 22 Antonio mentioned, “Many shots found their mark…He made a strange gurgling sound in his throat, then he was still”. Antonio as a six-year-old had just experienced the death of a man. Narciso was the second death he witnessed. Antonio had also seen everything that happened with Narciso. Tenorio had shot him and Narciso was slowly dying. Antonio was holding Narciso, Narciso gave his last confession, and was there for his last breath. This is an issue because Antonio was there when they were shot, he was there for their last words, and he was there for their last breath.
Florence was the third death he witnessed, and then Ultima. Florence had drowned in the river from diving in and getting stuck on barbed wire. When the boys pulled him out, he had already been dead. Antonio had witnessed the death of a friend. Now for Ultima, Tenorio shot her pet owl. The owl is Ultima’s spirit, so if that owl dies, she dies too. Antonio saw when Tenorio shot the owl and how Ultima was slowly dying. He was there for her last breath and last words. On page 261, Ultima blessed Antonio as her last words telling him, “I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live. Love life, and if the despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you”. These events caused complications for Antonio because no one at such a young age should have to witness the deaths of his friends.
In addition, Antonio had come upon some complications during his first confession and his First Communion. On the day of his first confession, his friends had made him act as a priest so they can practice saying their confessions to him. Moments before his confession he was beaten up because he didn’t want to give a bigger punishment to Florence. On page 214 Antonio says, “I kicked and wiggled and struggled to get free from the incessant beating, but they held me tight and I could not throw them off”. Before every event marking a stage of his life, there is always a complication to go along with it. The day of his first Holy Communion he had been excited because he thought the communion was going to give him all the knowledge, all the answers to his questions, but when he took the communion, he got nothing. Something that was supposed to mark a big event, marking something important was ruined by his disappointment and curiosity. On page 221 Antonio says, “A thousand questions rushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer…I called again to the God that was within me, but there was no answer. Only emptiness”. His experiences arise as an issue because these events were supposed to be marking an important stage in his life and were bombarded by kids beating him and his disappointment in the communion.
Throughout all his experiences Antonio has lost his innocence. He had fully witnessed the death of 4 people. He questioned his beliefs, he questioned everything at such a young age. For example the death of Lupito, he questioned good, evil, sin, and death. At a young age, he began to question what his destiny should be. Antonio started to notice that things are not fair, that sometimes bad things happen to good people. An example that shows Antonio noticing is on page 170, “…rage and protest filled me. I wanted to cry out into the storm that it was not fair that Narciso died for doing good, that it was not fair for a mere boy to be at the dying of a man.. This is a complication because Antonio losing his innocence was forced onto him, and taken from him rather than him being able to choose when.
Although Antonio was very young, he witnessed the death of four people, had problems with his first confession and First Communion and lost his innocence at such a young age. Antonio’s navigates rite of passage complications due to his experiences. Throughout the book, we see Antonio go through things that have negative outcomes. We’ve seen how the deaths he witnessed, his disappointments, his beatings have affected him. We see him lose his innocence throughout the book due to the negative experiences he witnesses through rite of passages.
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolph Anaya: the Effect of Antonio’s Childhood Experiences on His Life
One must be awakened by their experiences in life in order to grow and change into the person they ought to be. As you grow into adulthood, you use childhood experiences and build yourself upon their impact to guide you just as Antonio encounters this in Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. Life’s experiences sometimes catches us by surprise and unready, but the exposure to them is enough to be awakened and grow from them.
People try to believe and hold on to divine and mystical ideas or beings, to be guided and trust in them when life gets tough. At times, these ideas are passed down from generation to generation, but it does not always function for that person the same way. Antonio is raised to be a boy who follows Catholic values and beliefs due to his mother, Maria, invoking God and church on him. However, his faith did not teach him how to deal with facing mortality. At the age of six, no kid is ready to witness death right in front of their eyes, Antonio is no exception. Lupito had gone crazy due to his participation in World War II, he had killed the local sheriff and was being chased by the men of the town including Antonio’s father. At the bridge, on the river, where Antonio sees his father and many townspeople shoot Lupito with no hesitation, the nature of his world was stained and leaves him in a state of confusion and doubt. Being present at the time of the murder of Lupito, Antonio’s life bridged from boy to man, from life to death, and from innocent to dark. He tried to embrace himself to the only thing he knew, which was his faith. “Did God listen? Would he hear? Had he seen my father on the Bridge? And where was Lupito’s soul winging to, or was it washing down the river to the fertile valley of my uncles farms”. Although he tried to embrace his faith, Lupito’s brutal death in the eyes of Antonio sparked his questioning on many ideas like who is the real sinner, what is good and evil, and whether his faith had the answers. He begins to see the world as a man with its violence and ruthlessness, it was no longer just sunshines and rainbows.
As evil and confusion lurked into Antonio’s life, a beacon of resilience and navigation was introduced into his life that same summer, Ultima. She comes into Antonio’s life unexpectedly, but they establish a spiritual connection much greater than the one he had with his own faith. Ultima’s arrival was the beginning of Antonio’s journey of the world of nature and with her guidance he begins to understand the nature around him is saturated with spirits, good and evil. However, the introduction of Ultima in his life was also the start of Antonio’s journey in curiosity and doubt in his faith. Antonio knew about Ultima’s profession of a “curandera”, someone who uses herbs and old customs to heal someone else, but some people in the novel call her a “bruja” which was a conflicting matter for Antonio. When Antonio’s uncle, Lucas becomes greatly ill due to a curse, Ultima rises to the occasion of using her “powers”. Since “the power of the doctor and the power of the church had failed to cure my uncle…Was it possible that there was more power in Ultima’s magic than in the priest?”. Antonio realizes that there are powers in the world that are much greater than of the church. Antonio begins to question God’s power. He begins to ask himself why Ultima was able to cure him when the priest couldn’t even after having God’s help. Catholicism condemns such supernatural “powers” that Ultima uses as evil, but since Antonio felt as his questioning of god’s power and admiration towards Ultima’s power was sinful. Thus, the for it sparks conflict within Antonio of whether Ultima’s power are good or evil. For Antonio it becomes not so easy to distinguish, although Ultima performs many good deeds, her cures ended up also killing two of Tenerio’s daughter. The success of Ultima’s power and the failing of the powers of the priest and church leaves Antonio more insecure whether his destiny is truly to be a priest.
In the midst of being lost and trying to find himself, Antonio tends to rely on Ultima as she becomes the backbone of his growing process and a mother-figure. Whenever, Antonio had questions and internal dilemmas, he would always refer back to Ultima’s advice. Antonio’s mother associates the growing up and being a man was a sin and corrupted innocence. His mother’s religious values leads her to the conclusion that the only hope for Antonio’s salvation lies in his becoming a priest and always with god. Ultima view growing up as an inevitable process that is natural and all up to Antonio’s own timing. “Ultima said to take life’s experiences and build strength from them, not weakness. Ultima’s death was a crucial factor of him growing up to be a man, as he now had to look forward on his own. All the experiences and all the conflicts are a part of his development from a boy to a young man. As a boy becomes a man, he uses his experiences and his knowledge to make decisions. Ultima was just his moral compass, his “eye opener” for the time being and with her motherly advice, Antonio is ready to continue the inevitable journey to be a man. From now on, Antonio seeks for himself to make his own decisions and will no longer constantly look to her for guidance.
Sometimes, people are forced to face experiences in which they are not prepared for. However, they learn that such revelation of those experiences can actually help them much greater to grow wiser and mature. Antonio eventually understands that in life the loss of innocence and doubt is a crucial part of growing up to be the man who is truly to be. With the guidance of Ultima, Antonio eyes were able to open and be awake to the world of good and evil, of doubt and of maturity.
Summary and Review of the Book Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolph Anaya
Bless Me, Ultima is a fiction novel published in 1972 by Rudolfo Anaya. Some of the main themes are about culture, the supernatural, religion, and growing up. The protagonist is a six-year-old boy born in New Mexico named Antonio Marez. He is always up for learning new things and faces difficult situations about life as he grows up. Other main characters are, Ultima, Gabriel, Marez, and the Florence. The antagonist is Tenorio Trementina whose daughters and wife are believed to be witches. The story takes place in the 1940s in their town or in Antonio’s home in New Mexico during WWII.
The story begins with Antonio recalling the time when Ultima, the healer, lived with him and his family. He talks about the day before Ultima moved in as he lies in bed and listens to his dad discussing how she lives alone near them. Antonio’s dad is Gabriel who used to be a cowboy. Maria Luna is his mother who insisted in moving to the llano. The move affected Gabriel and he started drinking and spends a lot of time crying about his sons being away fighting in WWII. Antonio is happy about Ultima moving in with them because he is thankful that she has helped Maria after giving birth and thinks it’s wrong for her to live alone. As Antonio is going to bed, he has a dream about a woman giving birth and realizes it’s him who she is giving birth to. After his birth, his uncle walks in and says he wants Antonio to become a farmer in his afterbirth. While the cowboys want him to become a vaquero just like them. Ultima tells them that only she will know what happens to the baby. The next morning, Antonio has school but is scared of leaving his mother. His mother tells him that Ultima was there during his birth and that she wishes he will become a priest. Later, Gabriel comes home with Ultima and as Antonio shakes her hand, he feels a power around him. Ultima has an owl that hangs around their home and Antonio believes it is evil until he has a dream about the owl and the Virgin de Guadalupe carrying children to heaven. Everyone is happy about Ultima moving in and she starts helping with chores and listens to Gabriel talking about wanting to move to California but cries because his sons are off fighting in WWII and doesn’t think his dream of moving will ever come true.
One night, the owl is heard crying and Jason’s father, Chavez, runs into the family home to say that his brother was killed by a man named Lupito who shot him in the head. Chavez asks for Gabriel’s help in killing him and they leave to find Lupito and Antonio follows them before Maria could lock the kids inside. Antonio hides and sees Lupito with a pistol near the river. Gabriel and Chavez find him, and Lupito starts saying something about Japanese soldiers and disappears while running towards Antonio. They tell a policeman names Vigil that they have to kill Lupito and they all start to argue. Gabriel’s friend, Narciso talks to Lupito to convince him to give himself up and he shoots up at the sky and the other men get scared thinking he’s shooting towards them, so they shoot back and kill him. Antonio runs towards him and prays for Lupito’s soul. As Antonio enters his home, Ultima helps him by giving him medicine and answers his questions about whether Lupito’s soul will go to hell. Eventually he falls asleep and has a dream about his brothers gathering to build a castle on the hills for Gabriel. As they’re crossing the river to build the castle, they hear a voice calling out Antonio’s name and they say it’s la Llorona or Lupito calling him. When Antonio wakes up, he notices Ultima’s potions healed him. He starts to wonder what happened to Lupito’s soul and hopes that God will forgive him for his sin and questions if his father also shot Lupito. As they all get ready to go to church, Ultima tells Maria how the night before was a tough day for the men. Maria tells her that Antonio is not a man, and Ultima tells her he will soon be one. Gabriel tells them that everything he is going through will make him a man. Maria says she hopes he will become a priest to avoid corruption of life. Antonia asks Ultima about how he can help his father if he did kill Lupito and Ultima tells him she doesn’t think he did. As they’re walking past a mansion, Maria makes them bow to a woman, but Antonio realizes that it belongs to an evil woman named Rosie.
One night, Antonio has a dream about the Virgin Mary. In his dream, she promises his mom that her sons will come home, and Antonio will become a priest. After he wakes up, Antonio’s uncle, Pedro Luna, arrives to take him and his family to the farms to harvest. They visit Maria’s dad, Prudencio Luna, and they stay at her brother Juan’s home. Antonio hears Maria and Juan talking about wanting him to live a life like the Luna family and stay at El Puerto.
It’s Antonio’s first day back at school and before he leaves, his mother asks Ultima to bless him. While she’s blessing him, he feels a breeze and is reminded of the evil spirits at el llano. Maria asks for Antonio’s fate and Ultima replies “a man of learning”. On his first day, he learns how to write his name but is bullied by kids because he can’t speak English. The war ends and Maria cries tears of joy after hearing that her sons will be returning. Antonio has a dream about his bothers asking for help because they are dying. When he wakes up, he sees his brothers walking towards their home. The three brothers suffer from trauma and spend most of their time sleeping and going out with women. The three brothers hope to live their lives independently and don’t listen to their dad’s wish of wanting to move to California. Antonio has another dream about his brothers telling him to go to Rosie’s brothel and he tells them he can’t because he is trying to become a priest. Leon and Eugene think that he will eventually go inside her brothel. They both enter while Andrews waits because he doesn’t want to lose his innocence. Ultima appears and tells him that it only happens in el llano surrounded by nature. Antonio wakes up to his brothers and parents yelling about wanting to live their own life and the next day, Leon and Eugene leave. Antonio stays and gets a job in a market and when asked about what he wants to become he says the war has made him grow too fast. Gabriel becomes unhappy about his sons leaving and Maria is sad about her brother getting sick. They believe the witch cursed him. Pedro Luna asks Ultima if she can help cure him and she agrees to but warns them about the consequences. Pedro agrees to take responsibility and explains that Lucas was in a cottonwood forest when he saw Tenorio Trementina’s daughters dancing and performing a satanic ritual. They saw Lucas and attacked him, but he made a cross and scared them away but as they were walking away, they cursed him. As Ultima and Antonio are on their way to help Lucas, they see an omen that is believed to be good luck for Lucas. When they arrive, they ask everyone to leave the room and asks to talk to Tenorio. As they enter his room, he is seen with a cruel look on his face. Ultima explains that she is there to cure the evil curse from his daughters. Tenorio gets angry at Ultima for blaming his daughters and says he will kill her. Ultima tells him his daughters must deal with the consequences. As they’re leaving Tenorio attempts to hit them with his horse, but they move just in time to avoid it. As Ultima enters the room Lucas is in, she starts using a herbal remedy and makes atole. She eventually saves Lucas and calls Prudencio to tell him that his son is cured. One day as Antonio is by the river, he hears Cico calling out for him. He asks is he thinks the golden carp is God and he replies that he only believes in one God because of his religion. Antonio promises Cico to never hurt a carp. Antonio and Cico are both invited to play ball and their friend Ernie tells them a witch is living in Antonio’s house. Antonio is asked to do a magic trick and suddenly vomits carrot juice that scared off his friends. As Cico and Antonio run to a pond, they find a golden carp. Cico says the carp lives in the same place as a mermaid and warns him never to go there because the mermaids will kill him. Cico tells Antonio that the golden carp predicts that the amount of sins by a person will sink the land. Antonio tells him it’s unfair to men who do not sin and Cico tells him that every man sin. When Antonio goes back home, he finds out that Ultima is already aware of the golden carp.
One day, Narciso comes running into the Marez home and tells them that one of Tenorio’s daughters died and that Tenorio is telling everyone that he found herbs under her bed left there by Ultima. Narciso warns Ultima that he is coming to kill her. Tenorio arrives and Gabriel asks him to identify himself and the reason he is there. Needles in the sign of a cross are over the door and Narciso explains that if Ultima can walk through the door, it means she is not a witch. Ultima’s owl comes flying in and cuts out Tenorio’s eye. Ultima is able to walk through the door but Antonio was the only one to notice the needles weren’t pinned on the door but doesn’t know how they came off.
The next day Pedro takes the family to help with the harvest and brings Gabriel along this time. As they are driving, Antonio begins to wonder about the golden carp’s punishment and if there is a God that forgives instead of punishing. As they’re harvesting, they talk about the “Black Mass” that will be done on the Trementina’s dead daughter. Antonio has a dream about the Black Mass but instead of the Trementina daughter being in the coffin, he sees Ultima. When he wakes up, he sees Ultima at the Trementina funeral. When Tenorio and his daughters try entering the church, the priest blocks them, and the burial must be done on unholy ground.
When Antonio returns to school, he tells Samuel that he saw the golden carp and that other kids won’t understand the reason for defending Ultima. Ernie tries starting a fight with Antonio by calling Ultima a witch and he defends her by getting into a fight. As Antonio is walking back home, he sees Tenorio fighting two guys and before he leaves, he makes a promise to kill Ultima after another one of his daughters becomes sick. Narciso and Antonio go to Rosie’s house to ask for Andrew and this makes him wonder if Andrew has lost his innocence. Suddenly, Antonio hears gun shots outside and sees Tenorio and Narciso fighting. Tenorio aimed the gun at Antonio but his pistol won’t shoot. Antonio goes home and has a dream where the virgin says she will not forgive Narciso after he begged God and the virgin to forgive Andrew and Narciso. He also sees Lupito and Narciso’s blood in a river and they ask Antonio to forgive them but as Antonio walks towards them, they suddenly turn into the Trementina’s and they cut Antonio’s hair to mix it in bats blood. Antonio dies even after Ultima’s magic and becomes a new sun. Antonio suffers from pneumonia for some day and the coroner declares Narciso’s death was accidental. Tenorio finds Antonio one day and tells him that another one of his daughters is dying and that he will kill Ultima. Antonio tells her and she tells him that he won’t be able to get to her as easily as he did with Narciso.
A rumor begins to spread that Tenorio’s daughter is close to dying and Antonio worries that he is trying to kill Ultima, so he spends more time with her. One of Gabriel’s friends, Tellez, asks Ultima for help believing his home is cursed. Ultima explains that Tellez’s grandfather is the reason they are cursed, and Gabriel agrees to take responsibility if Ultima can help. She burns the platform where Camanche burned dead bodies and when it is completely burned, they are no longer cursed.
One night, Antonio has a dream about Lupito, Florence, and Narciso. He wants to know why there’s so much violence and hears a voice tell him that “creation lies in violence”. He watches the priest pour pigeon blood on the altar, Cico destroying the river by killing the golden carp, and Ultima is murdered by Tenorio. When he wakes up, Ultima is next to him ready to give him the potion. He tells them he wants to stay with the Lunas because he has witnessed too many people dying. Antonio is there for one month working and enjoys his life there. His nightmares aren’t a problem while he stays there and after a couple of months, his parents send him a letter saying they will bring him back home. While Antonio and Pedro are talking, Juan tells them that Tenorio’s daughter has died and he is coming to help Ultima as a way of repaying her for saving Lucas. As Antonio is walking, Tenorio tries hitting him with his horse. Tenorio is thrown off his horse because of Antonio and he hides. Tenorio searches for him and hopes that Antonio dies. He also says that he found out Ultima’s secret is the owl and that he will kill it. Antonio gets worried after finding out that the owl is Ultima’s soul. He runs to try and save Ultima and as he gets home, he sees Tenorio with a rifle. The owl attacks him to stop him from killing Antonio and as the owl is flying towards him, he shoots it. Tenorio holds the owl up and tries shooting Antonio again but Pedro shoots and kills Tenorio. Nobody understands the importance of the owl, so they don’t panic about it being killed but Antonio looks for Ultima everywhere. As Antonio runs into Ultima’s room, he sees her dying and begs her to keep living but she explains that she can’t. She asks him to burn all the medicines and bury the owl under a tree and he runs to bury it.
I enjoyed this novel because it has themes about family, religion, and the struggles faced as you grow. Rudolfo Anaya created a fiction story that included heritage and made it possible to relate to some of the topics such as the importance of religion. The story was also very entertaining and keeps you alert and wondering what will happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading fiction novels.
A Theme of Finding the Truth in Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolph Anaya
At some point within people’s lives, they find themselves struggling to find who they want to be, what they want to believe and trust, and what they want to do. “I cannot tell you what to believe. Your father and your mother can tell you, because you are their blood, but I cannot. As you grow into manhood you must find your own truths”. Readers see this in the novel Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. Antonio, is a six year old boy who lives in the eastern plains of New Mexico during the 1940’s who struggles with finding his purpose and finding what he believes in. The novel starts with the Márez family taking in Ultima, a curandera, to live with them, most likely until the day she dies. Then the reader learns that Antonio’s parents are both very different people and have very different views for what Antonio should do in his life. His father, Gabriel Márez, a former Vaquero, wants his son to follow in his footsteps and spend his days roaming the llano on horseback. His mother, Maria Márez, desperately wants Antonio to become a priest of the Luna instead of a vaquero like his father. Although, Antonio was raised in the Catholic church, he finds himself second guessing what he believes when he experiences many deaths, and learns about possible other gods, like the Golden Carp. With all this, he finds himself lost with what he believes and what he wants to do and who he wants to be. All of his worries intensifies later in the novel, but Ultima is there to help. Ultima tells him the stories and legends of his ancestors, and he comes to understand how the history of his people stirred his blood. Through her, Antonio learns the ‘old ways’ and develops a new relationship with nature. This relationship opens him to the contemplation of the possibility of other gods. Antonio learns there are powers in the world that differ from those honored by the Catholic faith. He learns to overcome his fears, especially his fear of change. In the end, Antonio understands himself and the world around him better, and he learns to accept life and the many challenges that it presents. Before he reaches that point, Antonio must go through the hardships of figuring out who he is. Through Antonio’s journey to becoming a man, Antonio struggles with being able to manifest his own purpose; however, with Ultima’s help, he learns he must find his own truth and purpose.
Antonio struggles to find his own truths due to the many different viewpoints on what his destiny is to be. These viewpoints come from many people within Antonio’s life. The first major conflict involves his parents. His Luna mother wishes for him to become a priest, while his Vaquero father wishes for him to ride the llano. Each parent has deeply rooted cultural convictions. “Mother of god, make my fourth son a priest.” Antonio’s mother; Maria Márez, comes from a family of farmers and maintains a good relationship with her brothers who are all Luna farmers. She is a devoutly religious woman with a strong conviction that Antonio should become a priest. Antonio’s mother speaks to him like a little boy, and is very overprotective of him. She opposes the lifestyle of the Vaquero like her husband. Antonio’s father instead wants Antonio to follow in the footsteps of the Márez tradition of wandering across the llano on horseback and move to California. These different views and thoughts on how Antonio should live his life cause Antonio to be so eager to find one single, definitive answer to the questions that haunt him because he has been influenced by many viewpoints by his parents. “Hush! He shall be a scholar”. “Remember you are a Luna-” “And a Marez”. Each side of the family wants control of the newborn’s future. Through all this, Antonio struggles to find what he self-consciously wants to pursue when he is of age. “You are to bring honor to your family”. He becomes increasingly frustrated and lost with what he wants to do, without disappointing any of his parents. While the coming of moral independence is a huge part of maturing, not disappointing his own parents does not make it easy to do so when they both expect something different of him.
Being raised Catholic, there are many things expected of Antonio, in order to be a member of the faith. But when Antonio experiences the murder of Lupito, a soldier recently returned from World War II, Antonio begins to consider sin, death, and the afterlife in earnest. Antonio worries about the fate of the men who shot Lupito on the bridge. His father was a part of the group of men who committed the murder. He worries his father could be punished by God for the sin. Why does God sometimes seem to punish the good? Where will they go after death? He begins to question what the truth really is. “‘The golden carp,’ [Antonio] said, ‘a new god?’’. Antonio discovers the golden carp at a time when he starts to doubt his mother’s Catholicism which she wishes for him to be extremely devoted to. The golden carp is supposedly a god sent to guide the other carp, who were once ancient people who sinned. Antonio can actually see the Golden Carp and feels a sense of enlightenment, instead of the seeming effectiveness of the Catholic god. “For Ultima, even the plants had a spirit.” Ultima plays an important role in helping Antonio gain knowledge of good and evil. She was a Curandera, a woman who knew the herbs and remedies of the ancients, a miracle-worker who could heal the sick. Ultima tells Antonio not what to believe, but how to make choices. She wants him to start thinking for himself. As Antonio starts to interact with Ultima more, she teaches him the ways of his ancestors and tells him the stories and legends about them. He begins to realize that the blood of his ancestors and past relitive’s ways are within his blood. Antonio develops a strong relationship with nature through Ultima, that opens his mind to other gods. “The power of the doctors and the power of the church had failed to cure my uncle.” The church is not providing answers to Antonio’s deepest questions in life. Antonio continues to become more and more disappointed in the church. Antonio has nothing to hold onto for a sort of beacon of hope. He is always struggling to find what is the truth and what god is the true god.
With the many different things that make it impossible to find his own truths, Ultima is there to help him think for himself and guides him to be able to make his own choices. “I cannot tell you what to believe. Your father and your mother can tell you, because you are their blood, but I cannot. As you grow into manhood you must find your own truths”. Ultima understands the struggles Antonio is going through after they’ve built their relationship. She also understands that life and spirituality can be viewed in many different and equally valid ways. Ultima’s appreciation for multiple faiths and perspectives allows her to see that each person must make independent moral decisions, rather than blindly trust someone else’s opinion. “It is because good is always stronger than evil. Always remember that, Antonio. The smallest bit of good can stand against all the powers of evil in the world and it will emerge triumphant.” She assures Antonio that although there is much evil in the world, the smallest bit of good can stand against all the evil. She uses the power from nature to guide her through life, which she passes on to Antonio.
Keys To Identity In Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima
“Understanding comes with life. As a man grows he sees life and death, he is happy and sad, he works, plays, meets people – sometimes it takes a lifetime to acquire understanding, because in the end understanding simply means having sympathy for people”. Rudolfo Anaya, author of the novel Bless Me, Ultima, creates an epic battle between a boy named Antonio and his uncertainties about life, which ultimately unfolds his true personality. Through a long and rigorous journey, Antonio discovers with the guidance of others, aspects of his life that represent the storyline of the novel: the discovery of Antonio’s questions and his true identity. Antonio’s struggles with religious beliefs, pagan gods, and identity. These struggles cause him to search for answers, with his answers Antonio is able to syncretize religion, cultures, to find his true identity.
Antonio represents opposing families and cultures, his mother’s family, Lunas, and his father’s family, the Marez. The Lunas represent quiet people who are tied to the earth by their farming whereas, Marez are people who are free to travel and do as they please. Throughout the novel, Antonio is constantly divided between the Lunas and the Marez. Antonio is constantly trying to distinguish who he is. Even from the very beginning of the book this conflict of Antonio’s is present.
This one will be a Luna . . . he will be a farmer and keep our customs and traditions. Perhaps God will bless our family and make the baby a priest . . . Then the silence was shattered with the thunder of hoof-beats; vaqueros surrounded the small house . . . He is a Marez . . . His forefathers were conquistadores, men as restless as the seas they sailed and as free as the land they conquered.
Throughout the novel, Maria and Gabriel, constantly argue about Antonio. Maria and Gabriel cannot deny that one day when Antonio gets to be a man that he will have the pick to be his “mother’s priest” or his “father’s son”. Both parents always insult each other. For example, Maria thinks that the people the Llano are “worthless drunks” and that they are “always dragging their families around the country like vagabonds”. His father is always questioning Tony becoming a priest and a farmer.
Even though there is constant bickering in the family, Antonio goes on a quest to find the answers to his identity. To find the answers, it was needed that Antonio experience both sides of his family. Anaya writes, “But from my father and Ultima I had learned that the greater immortality is in the freedom of a man, and that freedom is best nourished by the noble expanse of land and air and pure, white sky”. Anaya writes, “I learned to be at ease in the silence of my uncles, a silence steeped as deep as a child’s. I watched closely how they worked the earth, the respect they showed it, and the way they cared for living plants. The experiences that Antonio gathers allows him to make his own decisions, to forge his path. Anaya writes, “‘Then maybe I do not have to be just Marez, or Luna, perhaps I can be both’ I said”. His experiences have made Antonio realize that there are pros and cons of only being on one side of the family. Knowing the cons of both sides of his family Antonio can pick and choose what he likes.
Another problem with Antonio is religion. His mother is catholic and often imposes her religion upon Antonio. However, Antonio slowly begins to doubt the catholic god, after repeated failures to receive God’s explanation of the existence of evil. Furthermore, Antonio even thinks that God himself does not exist. Anaya writes, “there was only silence”. His faith in God is further challenged when Ultima can lift the curse on Téllez’s home, a task the priest failed to succeed in. God is also seemingly unforgiving and harsh when a tragic event happens to Antonio. Antonio’s doubt in the catholic god motivates him to find the answers of religion. In his quest for answers, Antonio discovers the golden carp The golden carp represents a wonderful pagan god to Tony because it is loving, tangible, and beautiful. Samuel opens another door in Tony’s religious education. Cico takes him to see the golden carp. When Tony sees the golden carp for the first time, his reaction is one of awe, “I could not have been more entranced if I had seen the Virgin, or God Himself”. By seeing the supernatural, “Antonio’s eyes have been opened…and he can begin to sense the latent energy in the landscape”.
Antonio starts to show signs of blending the two different religions begins when he asks Cico, “Does one have to choose . . . Is it possible to have both?”. Even though Tony doubts the Catholic Church, he cannot bring himself to solely believe in the golden carp or God. Once he sees this great presence of the pagan gods that are out there in the natural world, he begins to accept that it can be. By opening his eyes to this new world, this leads Tony to the conclusion that he is in charge of his own destiny, not those around him, and he himself has the option to choose what will happen to him because he sees the world in a different way now.
In the end, he has learned about the opposing religions, he decides he wants to create a new religion, a step to finding his true identity. Anaya writes, “‘Take the llano and the river valley, the moon and the sea, God and the golden carp-and make something new… can a new religion be made”.
The entirety of this book is essentially about choices and decisions that Tony has to make. There is a definite presence of destiny and fate and the idea that Tony has his future planned out for him by those who are around him; however, he comes to realize that it is indeed up to him to make the choices in his own life. The major choice in the novel comes with the idea that he may choose his own fate, what he wants to be, and especially what he wants to believe in. He does not have to be a Catholic or a pagan just because someone told him that that was the right thing to do. He does not need to be solely Luna or Marez. One way or another, he has to make a choice about what to believe, but he eventually sees that he is like both, but like neither; rather, he is simply Tony, only now he has a voice.
Antonio In The Bless Me Ultima
Life has many twists and turns and some are meant to be a learning experience and help shift our perspective on daily life. When one allows events to shape their life it can be beneficial or detrimental. Betrayal, respect, negligence, and defiance can all have a significant role on the development of one’s life, whether someone chooses to believe or be in disbelief truth will always prosper.
Narciso, Ultima, and Florence all perish, facing defeat. Antonio young and naive to the world deals with so much misfortune. Death has significance to Antonio and to the afterlife that awaits and the loss of a soul as Narcisos death was not in vain. Narciso chooses to be valiant, courageously facing Tenorio all at once. His actions show him to be an honest man running to protect Ultima from Tenorio when she was defenseless. When confronting Antonio’s older brother he shows concern for Ultima’s safety,and gets declined due to his drunk nature leading to his demise. After Antonio notices that his brother had betrayed Narciso’s word, he goes to seek help holding his head down. Now with facing and seeing death through his own eyes he begins to believe there is no good in this world. All the above shows that death of a close friend has affected Antonio’s value of life. Someone’s company can come in a great amount of ways, friends, enemies, alies, animals and all can influence oneself in a good and bad way, they can do as much as pursue one to believe in themselves. Antonio had a couple of friends when he went to communion, all but one of his many friends seemed abnormal to him, Florence was a boy who usually stayed quiet and was hardly noticed.
Florence did not believe in religion therefore did not believe someone would save his soul after he died, not believing in a God while Antonio had been raised in a devout catholic home worried and lead to the distaste in his friends behavior. Florence did believe in something and that was himself ,despite his non belief in practicing religion. When Antonio saw Florence define all others opinions on him, he sought for to acquire that quality for himself. After going one day with friends and witnessing his friend drown and come afloat a river changed Antonio and made him realize that his friend had died without confession and that he would burn in hell. As well made him question himself, why if there is an all knowing god there was still so much evil in the world. He now recognized that one does not need to believe in anything to believe in oneself. Though this event changed Antonio in a detrimental manner he still believes that life is not always good but there is a balance in the universe. Death is inevitable in life and at times leaves messages for others to follow, life flourishes across the world and as one grows one learns from it. The elderly live among us and are wise with knowledge and some seek for that knowledge that is shared from old to young. Ultima gives young Antonio a necklace filled with protective herbs as he continues to grow more and more attached to her she begins to look after him more then his mother. Through the time he first welcomed her to his home she took to immediately go and help his uncle Lucas who had been cursed by the trementina sisters saving his life and showed that she has a good heart. The compassion shared between Ultima and Antonio is strong as she teaches him after Tenorios daughter dies that good outweighs evil.
Through all the time Ultima spent with Antonio she watched over him through the owl and her spirit embedded inside of it. When Ultima’s spirit is killed she begins to slowly die and tells Antonio that she has lived her life and that he needs to destroy all her belongings and does so obediently as he respects her in her final minutes, In the end he never quite understood why everything had to happen the way it did and affected him in a beneficial way. The majority of things that happen to Antonio are during the summer and have seemed to mature him and shape his view on the world. He began to learn that change is sad and inevitable to escape, that it must happen to progress. Antonio’s father cannot seem to cope with the changes in his own life and still neglects the fact that it is his actions to pursue freedom and inspired his children to make a life of their own and not pursue his dream. Through evil shines Light, and hardships, tribulations, and death are obstacles one must overcome in life to do good.
Characters In The Bless Me Ultima
Luckily, Rudolfo has not died and was born on October 30, 1937, which makes him eighty-one years old at the moment. Married to Patricia, who had sadly passed away, helped with scholarships for students with the need for financial support. He was born and raised in New Mexico, US, and attended school in this area.
After graduating from the University of New Mexico, he became a public school teacher for seven years which was between 1963-1970. Not only that but he became director of counseling at the University of Albuquerque. After this, he started teaching at the University. It is quite noticeable that Rudolfo Anaya was a busy man. He has written many books and most involve Mexican American traditions.( Britannica)One of which being Bless Me, Ultima which was actually the first novel he ever wrote but continued writing new books which also became very successful. Later on, Bless Me, Ultima became a national best-seller because it describes another form of religion and Mexican traditions. This book was published in 1972. Rudolfo has received many awards due to all the well-written books he has made.
These awards being, NEA National of Arts Lifetime Honor, Kellogg Foundation fellowship, the American Book Award, two Governor’s Public Service awards from New Mexico, and last, two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) literature fellowships.(Formalities) Just because of all the awards he received, he did not take all the credit. As said by Rudolfo Anaya, ?I’ve been thinking a lot about what this recognition means, and I’ve decided it’s not just about methis award is about the people of New Mexico.’ This clearly shows how his confidence did not increase and remained humble. Instead, he actually gave some credit to the individuals from New Mexico for his writing. After reading a biography about Rudolfo Anaya, it was understood that a lot of the inspiration for Bless Me, Ultima came from his own family. While his mother, Rafaelita Mares, was Catholic and enjoyed of a stable house, his father, Martin Anaya, would rather move on from area to area as a nomadic herder. Just as in the book, Antonio’s parents would have discussions due to having different opinions on lifestyle and where to live. Also, the book includes many religious themes and spiritual healing. Because of the great writing structures he had, it was really clear for the reader to understand the main point of the novel and acknowledge different forms if religion.(Rudolfo)
- 1 Form, structure, and plot:
- 2 Point of view:
- 3 Character:
Form, structure, and plot:
The text, Bless Me Ultima, is not to lengthy and is 262 pages (without counting the Reading Group Guide, Q and A with Rudolfo Anaya). Also, it consists of veintiuno chapters, as said in the book, which when translated to english, means twenty-one. The chapter’s numbers in this book are written in Spanish rather than English due to the Mexican traditions throughout the text. Overall, this is significant because it gives an additional way to represent the latin background behind the chapters. Like most other books, Bless Me, Ultima, is written in a chronological order of events from when Ultima was introduced in the book until after all of the problems were solved. Flashbacks of other events are also presents in some areas in the text here and there. In the book, the main character/narrator, Antonio, has dreams in which important characters that have passed away show up when he is sleeping. Rudolfo Anaya also switches between different ideas such as questions, thoughts, and stuff that has happened in the past. These ideas usually come from the characters in the book, one of which being Antonio, the boy narrating the story. From the reader’s point of view, it is inferred that the plot of the book is complex because many risky events are present. Throughout the whole novel, the main characters, Antonio and Ultima, struggle to conquer many issues with society due to the fact that individuals believe Ultima is a witch when in reality she is a curandera, a person who cures with magic and herbs. This is the main reason that makes the plot complex because this characteristics causes a lot of problems in the book that later get solved. Even though the book is said to be fictional, it can pass as real because of all the vivid details present page after page and all the clear details about religion and Mexican heritage. A noticeable change was present from the beginning of the book to the end of it. Towards the beginning, Ultima is introduced and moves in with Antonio’s family but as the book continues, she causes a lot of issues due to her magic.
Point of view:
In this case, the book is written in first person. Antonio Marez is narrating the story about his family and himself. Also, it is referring to events that occurred throughout the youth of Antonio which is mainly about magic. Bless Me, Ultima is written about events that happened throughout Tony’s childhood. Antonio, the narrator, is the protagonist of the book. It is not clear to the reader the age of Antonio when narrating the story but he is able to look back and give vivid details to explain what he went through. Over the course of the book, Tony changes his perspective about religion and his belief. He starts questioning it and does not know what to think about it. Also, other characters influence Antonio majorly so he changes his point of view several times. While some people say one thing, some say another this so he starts to question more about life. With the author’s point of view, he achieves that the reader clearly understands what is happening and makes it seem like we are living the book. Also, since it is is said in Antonio’s point of view, it seems like we are put in his shoes and it is easier to understand his emotions and what he is going through. If it was not written in first person, then we would have seen the story through the perspective of many characters rather than just one and it would be more confusing. Also, this would have caused the reader to be puzzled and not understand the real story. First person was the best way to go because we read the book about what one person went through and not several others.
Many different characters show up throughout the novel but not all have a big role as others. This leads us to the conclusion that some flat characters are, Antonio’s friends, father Byrnes, Lupito, Cico, Tenorio and his daughters, Tenorio, Narciso, Antonio’s sisters, Jason Chavez, and Chaves. These individuals show up in the book but do not make the a drastic change to the story. On the other hand, Ultima, Antonio, and Antonio’s parents are round characters because they are involved in most sections of the story and are put in tough positions that makes the story more interesting to the reader. If it was not for these characters, than the novel would have been more boring in a way because not a lot of suspenseful things would have occurred. Ultima can be a static character because she provides trust and characters can feel comfort around her because they can rely on her. She does not change while all of the other individuals she’s around do. Gabriel, Antonio’s father, is a dynamic and complex character because he has to change some of his ways in his lifestyle in order to keep his family members and loved ones together. In this case, was to enjoy of a farming life instead of being a vaquero like his descendants. The characters in the novel are believable because the book took place in the older times and all of the characteristics go along with the setting. All were revealed over the course of the novel when Ultima was introduced. When Ultima was introduced, she started to affect other characters which was when they started to appear. As an estimation, there is around thirty-nine characters in the novel. Some being important, and others only making an appearance a couple times.
The protagonist of Bless Me, Ultima is Antonio Marez because he was the main character and was narrating the story. On the other hand, the antagonist is Tenorio because he cause a lot of problems to Antonio and his family. Some minor characters include, father Byrnes, catholic priest and teaches Antonio and friends in catechism, Miss Maestas, Antonio’s teacher and see a lot of potential in him education wise, and Antonio’s uncle which is his mom’s brother. An important character of the book is Ultima. While age is not given, it is know that she is elderly; therefore, is very respected. She is a curandera which is a healer that uses magic and herbs (spiritual power). Often times in the book is confused as a witch. Ultima is very complex and wise and knows a lot about life. She develops an important bond with Antonio which is needed for the overall book. Her name is significant because it is in the title which gives the reader a hint that she will be important throughout the novel. When describing her in three adjectives, she is old, wise, and calm. A key quote said by Ultima is, ?It is because good is always stronger than evil. Always remember that Antonio.’ This is a piece of wisdom that Ultima gives Antonio since she knows a lot about life. Also, it shows the impact that she has had on Tony and how she gives him advice. Another character is Antonio Marez who is six years old when introduced in the book. He is the protagonist and is narrating events that occurred in his youth.
For his age, he is really smart and is able to understand a lot of adult topics. Also, when going to school, his teacher, Miss Maestas, noticed huge advancement academically in a short period of time. He has a very special bond with Ultima and learns a lot from her. Lets just say that he learns a lot for his age and is able to understand certain subjects. At one point, he starts to question a lot about religion and life. In three adjectives, it can be said that he is bright, serious, and thoughtful. He goes through a lot of issues and has to solve them by either doing the right or wrong thing. Also, he switches from being a child to an adolescent and has learns that actions result in suffering through consequences. A key quote is, God was not always forgiving. He made laws to follow and if you broke them you were punished. The Virgin always forgave. This phrase, is the start of Antonio incorporating religion into the book. Later on, he will start questioning and affects the overall novel. Florence is another character in Bless Me, Ultima and is a young blond boy.