I find Bless Me, Ultima to be a sort of Hispanic The Scarlet Letter. This is only true in its themes of nature coinciding with good and protecting against evil. It is transcendental in this sense. The book follows a boy named Antonio who finds himself to be under two parents with conflicting ways of life. Antonio's mother is a devout Catholic who wishes her son to become a priest. His father has a restless spirit and wishes to roam the land, not settle, as his wife insists. Antonio realizes that he must make a choice between these two ways of life and is torn. He enjoys the positive aspects of both styles. I like the theme of this book. However, I think that it has been constructed in very obvious ways and little subtlety was used to attempt to mask the theme for later. At the end of chapter eleven, Antonio has another dream in which his mother's and his father's ways conflict. At the end of the dream, Ultima tells Tony that her pagan ways allow for the connection of earth and spirit. However, Ultima has only told the little boy that he must find his own path, even if he has to create it himself.
Antonio watches as his older brothers make this choice for themselves. After returning from war, they have been exposed to evil and changed by it. They drink and gamble. Antonio even has a dream about their entering a brothel. Two of the brothers move off the Santa Fe in obvious opposition to their parents. They chose their fathers path but refused to accept his choice of destination (California). The other brother, Andrew, chose to stay at home and attempt to complete his high-school education. Antonio watches these changes occur and is faced with thoughts on decisions he must make regarding his way of life and faith in the future. This novel is a coming-of-age story and also shows the protagonist's loss of innocence. I've got to say that I am a sucker for novels like this, and while Bless Me, Ultima is not my favorite novel of this genre, I am...
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