AFPRL 356 Latino Literature
September 18, 2011
Cultural and Religious Identity: Bless me, Ultima
Bless Ultima, me, is a novel written by Rudolfo Anaya in 1972. The story starts in 1940 during and after World Word II in Guadalupe, New Mexico. The main character is Antonio. Anaya describes Antonio’s childhood through a life changing journey. Also, Ultima, the “ curandera” who helped his mother in childbirth has a strong presence in his spiritual growth and development. Antonio portrays a human being with internal struggles and experiences that conflict with tradition, beliefs, faith, religion and find acceptance of change and growth.
Antonio’s familia education is tense with the two opposing symbols of Spanish colonization, his mother’s family, the Lunas, and his father ‘s family, the Marez. The Lunas represent the indigenous people, tied to the earth by their farming; whereas, the Marez represent the conquistadors, freely roaming the llano. Through the novel, Antonio is divided between his Luna blood and his Marez blood, always trying to decide between the two and please his parents desire. “This one will be a Luna….he will be a farmer and keep our customs and traditions. Perhaps God will be 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” (pag.5-6). Anaya remarks on the difficult time Antonio has to go through. He will have to choose to be his “mother’s priest” or “his father’s son” (41). Antonio’s parents constantly argue about Antonio’s destiny. 2
Antonio Mares, through the story witness many situations that cause conflict with his beliefs and religion. He discovers the magic of a pagan God called The Golden Carp and magic ‘s Ultima that is superior to the power of the Church. Anaya uses Ultima as representing all religious beliefs, which is what gives her power. She respects and reveres God, the Virgin, the Golden Carp, and the earth equally. The conflict emerge choosing between Native American religion and traditional Catholicism. Ultima guides and mentors Antonio to make his own religious choice.
The first event occurred when his friend Cico tells him that the Golden Carp is a God that has taken mortal form ,and watches over its people. He asks Ultima about this legend, she tells him that it is true. This answer makes him start doubting the Christian Church. Ultima helps him to find his own path but it could lead him away from the Church.
The second event that affects Antonio’s faith, is when Lucas his friend is dying of the witches curse. doctors and priest s come to try and save him but they can not. The 3rd challenge to his Christian’s Faith is when Ultima’s Power is greater than the churches, when she removes the curse of the Tellez family.
The author portrays Ultima as a mysterious, magical and luminous character that appears in Antonio’s life the day he was born. “ A cry came to my throat, and I wanted to shout it and run in the beauty I had found” (pag. 12). Antonio admired Ultima and praised her presence because every time she was around, he felt a deep sense of warmth and comfort. “ As Ultima walked past me I smelled the sweet fragrance of herbs (pag )
The author uses the name Ultima with a purpose. Ultima is a Spanish word meaning ultimate or the end. Ultima is special for Antonio since the first time he sees her. She is the unification between the beginning and the end. She is the...