This sample essay on Bless Me Ultima Conflict provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Irma Rosero AFPRL 356 Latino Literature Sec 051 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 mentor and guide who helps him from the beginning to find his path to reconcile his cultural and religious conflicts. Ultima has an strong bond of spiritual affection with Antonio. He has to suffer the rejection of people attacking her as a witch. Ultima is considered a witch with black powers.
But Anaya shows us that Ultima is a witch not like Trementina sisters, Ultima is a witch with white power. She uses her power to help people not hurt them. In the events discussed before, Antonio seems to question his religion. He doubts his desire to be a Priest. At the beginning, he attends church willingly and i very interested in Religion. He is eager to learn the Catholic prayers and take Communion classes to pleased his mother religious conditioning. He wonder if God is still alive or exist, because he recalls all the times when God has failed where Ultima has succeeded.
In Antonio’s mind, the Priest should have no trouble at all with witches, since their powers are nothing compared to the all strength manifested in the priest by the Church. Antonio believes the power of God is so potent, that “all you have to do is to lift your right hand and cross your right thumbs over your first finger and form the sign of the cross. No evil can challenge that cross” (pag 55). 4 With many failures and no answers from God, he is away from Catholicism so that he questions a God in whom he has no more trust or strong feelings.
He questions God’s love and ability to know all and see all, considering that perhaps” God is to busy in Heaven to worry or care about us” (pag 187). The crucial event that leads Antonio disbelief in God is his first communion. When the answers do not come from God, he is extremely disillusioned, wondering why “there was only silence” (pag 221). At this point, he becomes very unsatisfied with the Catholic religion, wanting something more concrete and tangible like the Golden Carp. Episode 22 finds him trying to pray the Act of Contrition for his friend Florence, but he knows that it is useless because Florence is an atheist.
Antonio is also failing his mother’ desire to be a Priest. He begins to abandon the traditional beliefs that he had nurtured in his heart for so long. Ultima advises Antonio to make his own religious choices: “ I cannot tell you what to believe…. As you grow into manhood you must find your own truths”(pag 119). The author seems to convey and compare those difficult moments in Antonio’s journey as it happens in our daily lives. When we are in conflict, we enter in an area of darkness and turbulence as Antonio’s dreams.
Anaya uses in story elements and symbols of nature to represent the frightening and unsafe. Stormy weather that represent conflict, tension that disrupts the peace and harmony. The wind and thunder represent forces of disturbances, “ a flash of lighting struck and out of the thunder a dark figure stepped forth” (pag 71). Anaya creates the perfect scene to sense the feelings of turbulence and the agitation during the story. 5 The author mentions the Owl.
The Owl is a major symbol in Hispanic Culture, it is an evil bird. It is considered a bad luck. However, in this story the owl is meant to be protector, Ultima’s soul. It represents life force, and power of religious mysticism. The Virgin of Guadalupe, the name of the Town: represents forgiveness and understanding. Antonio’s mother has a two foot big statue of the Virgin. He loves the Virgin more than any of the saints because of what she represents. The Golden Carp as a symbol that represents an alternative religion to the Catholicism that Antonio was raised in.
The imagery used to describe Antonio’s family also links the human world to the wider cosmo, The family name Marez means “sea” like Antonio’s ancestor. The men of the llano are known as men of the sea, because they are wild like the ocean. In contrast, the men from the farms along the rivers, where Antonio’s mother comes from, are associated with the moon. This can be seen in their name Lunas and in the village where they live. El Puerto de la Luna, which means the door of the moon. The Lunas live all aspect of their lives in harmony with the changing phases of the moon. .
The reader notices the repetition of the number three. The three sources of understand for Antonio (Ultima, God and Golden Carp). The three deaths that Antonio witnesses, (Lupito, Narciso and Tenorio). And The three Trementina Sisters. The number Three is related to Blessed Trinity. God is one God, He exists in three distinc persons, God, Son and the Holy Spirit. Anaya uses powerful images to evoke multiple responses from his headers. 6 Anaya the narrator, sets up a dialogue between Antonio and Ultima. He admits that he uses his personal experience and those of others in his childhood to construct the story.
He uses Antonio as reliable narrator whom the readers can trust. Finally, at the end, Antonio understands the balance Ultima has taught him; he must be Marez and Luna and have a balance between all religious beliefs to truly be a man of learning. In the story Ultima appears to him and explains that he must see beyond himself: “You have to been seeing only parts…and not looking beyond into the great cycle that binds us all “ (121). He learns all beliefs are bound together into a balanced system.
Ultima allows him the freedom to make his own decisions. Antonio finds his inner strength, when he goes to stay with his uncles in El Puerto for the summer. Ultima knows that when he returns he will be a different person. “Be prepared to see things change when you return…. You are growing, and growth is change. Accept the change, make it part of your strength” (pag. 245). Antonio discovers a way to reconcile his conflicting religion and beliefs as different issues that occur in his life. He must take the best characteristics of the Mares and Lunas.
Also, accept different religion and beliefs to create his personal faith and make himself stronger. “ Maybe I do not have to be just Marez, or Luna, perhaps I can be both” (pag 247). 7 Anaya includes in the story the value of friendship. It was a very important aspect of Antonio’s life. Although his friends were involved in a lot of conflicts, their bond never did not break. During the story the author conveys to the readers about change as a process of life. The process of entering the adolescence is simile as a loss that is to be mourned and accepted.
Antonio senses that his friends are also changing “Vitamina Kid does not want to race anymore” Antonio mourns the loss of “something good”. When Ultima dies, he is able to understand the link between change and violence, chaos and harmony. Ultima’s death serves to reinstate the harmony of the world. He comforts himself at the end of the story, because he understands he had changed “no more a child” . He understands that Death is a natural cycle of life and a change that is necessary for life to continue. He knows that Ultima is someone especial and she makes a big impact in his life.
Anaya expresses his point through the story that not everyone has the same truth. We find our own truth “by testing, each and everything that comes your way and not missing out” (pag. 119). Through Ultima’s teachings, we see Anaya challenging the values of the traditional Christian Church. The author intends to suggests the need for a more holistic or diverse view of religion. Anaya uses Ultima her character as a metaphor of understanding, acceptance and tolerance. Her actions show us, that the understanding is based in building the character according experiences of life.
In this way, a person cannot think in terms of absolutes. 8 Antonio finally learns the strength of truths is to explore and patiently accept and growth. “But as you growth into manhood you must not despair of life, but gather strength to sustain you…. “ (pag 245) Ultima is a firm believer in tolerance and understanding. She teaches that different belief system can offer equally valid way of understanding the world. Meaning that not matter if it is religion, identity or love, we should learn to open our minds and search what are really matter to us.