Fair Queen Speech

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quarrel. Their frequent Sunday morning arguments about religion are a result of Gabriel’s Saturday night drinking. María is a devout Catholic, but Gabriel’s vaquero mindset causes him to distrust priests because to him they stand for order and civilization. Antonio knows that Gabriel’s father once dragged a priest from church and beat him after the priest preached against something that Antonio’s grandfather had done. At last Antonio goes downstairs, and María scolds Antonio for not being properly formal when greeting Ultima. Ultima requests that María not scold Antonio, as the night was hard on all the men in town. María protests that Antonio is still a baby. She says that she thinks it is a sin for boys to become men. Gabriel hotly declares that it is not a sin, only the way of the world, and María argues that life corrupts the innocence and purity that God bequeaths to children. She says bitterly that if Antonio becomes a priest, he will be spard Ultima are the only grown-ups he knows who eat or drink before taking Communion on Sundays.

Many women in town are dressed in mourning because they have lost sons and husbands in the war. Antonio notes that the war has indirectly claimed two more victims: Chávez’s brother and Lupito. Antonio lingers near his mother, who smoothes his hair, and he feels soothed by her presence. He feels another jolt of anxiety when he realizes again that when he starts school soon, he will have to leave her. Antonio and Ultima discuss the events of the previous night. Antonio asks Ultima how his father can take Communion if he committed the sin of firing at Lupito. Ultima replies that she doesn’t think Gabriel fired at Lupito, but she warns that no one should presume to decide whom God does and does not forgive. On the way to the church, the family passes a brothel situated in a ramshackle mansion that belongs to a woman named Rosie. María makes her children bow their heads as they pass, and Antonio realizes that Rosie is evil, but...
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