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Bless Me, Ultima
Transcript of Bless Me, Ultima
The Color Black
The Number 3
There number three is widely presented throughout the novel. For example, there are three sources of understanding for Antonio, Antonio's three prophetic dreams, the three Trementina sisters, Antonio's three brothers, and the Holy Trinity. These all play crucial roles in both Antonio's life and the plot of the novel.
The Mentor: Ultima
Ultima serves as a mentor to Antonio. She guides him through his spiritual uncertainties and takes Antonio under her wing throughout the entire novel.
“My work was to do good,” she continued, “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 brujería 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 no ill will—I accept my death because I accepted to work for life—” (page 260)
The Outcast: Narciso
“After that Narciso turned to drink and lost everything. [...] Because Narciso was the town drunk, nobody cared much. [...] Narciso was buried and the town said he had died during one of his drunks.” (page 179)
Narciso was thought of as the town drunk, and no one really cared about him. It was evident that the townspeople didn't care much about him, for few people attended his funeral.
Good Vs. Evil: Ultima Vs. Tenorio
Bless Me, Ultima: Symbols and Archetypes
By: Samantha Acuna, Evelyn Alejandro, Sonia Hernandez, and Maria Botello
The Golden Carp is the representation of a legend that isn't connected to Catholic beliefs. It's legend is able to point out the differences between Catholic beliefs and pagan-like beliefs; as well as sprouting doubt in Antonio about the existence and presence of God.
"It made me shiver, not because it was cold but because the roots of everything I had ever believed in seemed shaken. If the Golden Carp was a god, who was the man on the cross? The Virgin? Was my mother praying to the wrong God?" (page 81)
The color black is represented widely throughout the novel as it represents death.
"Tomorrow the women who came to mourn Ultima's death who help my mother dress her in black, and my father would make her a fine pine coffin. [...] But all would only be the ceremony that was prescribed by custom. Ultima was really buried here. Tonight." (page 261)
"I had been afraid of the awful presence of the river… But the innocence which our isolation sheltered could not last forever, and the affairs of the town began to reach across our bridge and enter my life" (page 15)
“[...] but there he was, just starting across the bridge, side by side with Ida. I raced by him and called the challenge again. I put all I had into that race, I ran as hard as I could, but the Kid never passed me. I reached the end of the bridge and turned to look back. [...] Andrew said that someday I would beat the Kid across, I remembered. But there was no sweetness to the victory, instead I felt that something good had ended." (page 223)
The forest symbolizes evil because that's where the Trementina sisters performed the Black Mass in honor of the devil.
"He drew near and saw that it was no natural fire he witnessed, but rather the dance of the witches. They bounded among the trees, but their fire did not burn the dry brush—” [...] "I had heard many stories of people who had seen the bright balls of fire. These fireballs were brujas on their way to their meeting places. There, it was said, they conducted the Black Mass in honor of the devil, and the devil appeared and danced with them." (page 86-87)
The river symbolizes the deaths of many that happened throughout the novel. Antonio was afraid of the river's presence, for it symbolized various deaths that he witnessed that occurred there.
“En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo—” (page 55)
“It was then he recognized the Trementina sisters, Tenorio’s three girls—” (page 88)
"[...] my mother made the sign of the cross for my three brothers who were away at war." (page 3)
The bridge symbolizes Antonio transforming and changing as a person, for he is growing up and realizing different things that he didn't understand before.
The Platonic Ideal: The Virgin Of Guadalupe
Unlike God and the Golden Carp, the Virgin of Guadalupe offers up forgiveness. The Virgin serves as a connection between the cultures that pull at Antonio, even though it's a traditional Catholic symbol. Antonio turns to the Virgin repeatedly when he is frustrated by his failure to find a forgiving god.
The Unhealable Wound:
The Death of Lupito
The fact that Antonio witnessed Lupito's death represents the loss of innocence, and it left Antonio with an uncertainty of whether or not Lupito would go to heaven or hell.
Novel by Rudolfo Anaya
“I learned from her that there was a beauty in the time of day and in the time of night, and that there was peace in the river and in the hills. She taught me to listen to the mystery of the groaning earth and to feel complete in the fulfillment of its time. My soul grew under her careful guidance.” (page 15)
“I loved none as dearly as the Virgin. It was hard to say the rosary because you had to kneel for as long as the prayers lasted, but I did not mind because while my mother prayed I fastened my eyes on the statue of the Virgin until I thought that I was looking at a real person, the mother of God, the last relief of all sinners.” (page 44)
“A priest could have saved Lupito. Oh why did my mother dream for me to be a priest! How would I ever wash away the stain of blood from the sweet waters of my river!” (page 23)
The Ritual: Communion
The Journey: Antonio's Search For Identity
“Then suddenly the priest was in front of me. I caught a glimpse of the small, white wafer, the risen Christ, and then I closed my eyes and felt the host placed on my tongue. I received Him gladly, and swallowed Him. [...]We were standing now, the priest was talking to us. He said something about being Christians now, and how it was our duty to remind our parents to contribute to the collection box every Sunday so that the new school building could be built and sisters could come to teach us.” (page 220)
Antonio hopes that his first communion will finally answer all of his questions but is disappointed when God remains silent to him. He thinks the communion will be a revelation to him from God. Feeling betrayed by God, Antonio looks to the golden carp and Ultima.
“Whose priest will I be, I thought. The idea that there could be other gods besides the God of heaven ran through my mind.” (page 238)
Ultima reveals she was put to use her "magic" for good while Tenorio assasinated Ultima's owl in cold blood and seeking vengeance for his daughters.
Throughout the entire novel, Antonio is unsure of which god to place his faith in. As he continues to search for a forgiving god, he goes through a sort of spiritual search in which he puts his faith in God, the Golden Carp, and finally, Ultima.