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Ap Notebook Review Bless Me Ultima English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1789 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The protagonist of the novel is Antonio. When the novel begins he is only six but through the course of the novel, grows spiritually and mentally, into an adolescent. He is a very curious boy but is forced to witness several fatal events that have major impacts on him. Antonio is stuck in the middle between what his parents wants him to be when he grows up and is experiencing a crisis in his faith. He has a special bond with Ultima that he does not have with his parents. Antonio also acts like an assistant to Ultima. With the help of Ultima, he is able to reconcile these differences, strike out his own path in life, and mature in a thoughtful adolescence.

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Ultima is another character of importance. She is a well respected curandara. Because people do not understand her powers, some believe that she is a bruja. Ultima practices tolerance and teaches Antonio that different faiths offer equally valid explanations of the world. Because of she lifted his curse, she and Tenorio are enemies. While Antonio is the passive character, Ultima is active, as she is the one who performs the healings and offers advice to others. Her spirit and soul are connected with her owl familiar. In the end, when Tenorio shoots the owl, Ultima also dies. As her final wish, Ultima asks Antonio to bury the owl under the forked juniper tree.

Gabriel Marez is the father of Antonio. As a descendent of vaqueros, Gabriel is restless and independent. He prefers roaming the llano to having a fixed life as a farmer. Although he is not as religious as Maria, he will defend in what he believes in, like when he stood up for Ultima while Tenorio was denouncing her. Because of his views, he is constantly in disagreement with Maria. She would rather have Antonio become a priest. Gabriel also wishes to travel to California but his sons choose to move to Las Vegas. As the novel progress, he begins to see that his vaquero way of life is fading away and voluntarily chooses to abandon the argument with his wife. He is also supportive of whatever Antonio chooses to do with his life.

4. Conflicts:

Most of the conflicts are internal as they happen in Antonio’s head.

One is that of childhood and loss of innocence. Because of the three deaths that Antonio witnesses, he is forced into maturing quickly

Another conflict is that of his parent’s wishes of what he is to become. Gabriel and Maria have different views of what they want their son to become and spend a majority of the novel arguing about it

Antonio undergoes a crisis of faith when he asks why God would let such terrible things happen and when the powers of a priest have failed while Ultima’s magic prevailed. He is introduced to another faith and has difficulty reconciling the differences. He has questions about sin, death, the afterlife, forgiveness

A major conflict is that between Tenorio and Ultima. Tenorio vows to kill Ultima when she lifts a curse that his daughters cast. Antonio quickly gets dragged into this quarrel

5. Opening chapter or scene:

In the opening chapter, we find out that Ultima is to come and live with the Marez family.

Through a dream, Antonio’s family history is also discussed as well as the issue of whether Antonio is to become a priest, what his mother wants, or a vaquero or cowboy, what his father desires.

We also learn that Antonio is to start school soon and that only Ultima knows what will be Antonio’s destiny.

Later in the day, Gabriel returns and brings Ultima When Antonio touches Ultima’s hand, he senses the power of a whirlwind run through him. Antonio instinctively calls her Ultima instead of La Grande. Ultima says that they have a special bond with each other.

Ultima’s owl also makes itself at home around the Marez residence.

That night Antonio dreams that the owl carries the Virgin of Guadalupe and all the babes of Limbo to heaven

The opening introduces Antonio’s family and Ultima, the 1940s New Mexico setting

It also establishes the owl as a symbol of Ultima. We also see Ultima as a magical character

6. Plot:

After the events in the opening chapter, Antonio is forced to witness the death of Lupito, a war veteran. This is the inciting incident because the murder makes Antonio start to doubt his Catholic faith.

The rising action takes place over the next two years. The war is over and his brothers return home. They however are disillusioned and restless and pursue their own independent life.

Antonio’s friend, Samuel, introduces the golden carp to him. The golden carp is a river god who has come down to the mortal world to watch over humanity.

When his uncle Lucas is cursed by Tenorio’s daughter and the priest is unable to cure him, Ultima is called onto cure Lucas and succeeds. The golden carp and Ultima’s healing causes Antonio’s faith to waver.

In the climax, Antonio is again a witness to a fight between Narciso, the town drunk, and Tenorio. Although Narciso tries to defend Ultima, he is killed. Antonio experiences nightmares after this event.

When Antonio finally receives Communion, none of his questions are answered. Ultima drives away ghosts from a haunted house but this causes Tenorio to have even more contempt for her.

In the falling action, Florence drowns in a river and Ultima has to send Antonio to spend some time with his uncles to recover from the shock.

In the book’s finale Tenorio chases and tries to trample Antonio while on a horse. Ultima’s owl comes to his defense but it gets shot. Both Tenorio and Ultima die and balanced is restored.

7. Conclusion:

The conclusion begins with Antonio dreaming. He sees Lupito, Narciso, and Florence. Foreshadowing occurs when he sees a vision of Tenorio killing Ultima by murdering the night owl

Ultima believes that Antonio has witness too much death and so sends him to live with his uncles in El Puerto so that he can learn how to grow life

Gabriel begins to realize that his vaquero way of life is fading and is willing to end the conflict with Maria

Antonio enjoys life at El Puerto but then Tenorio’s second daughter dies of illness. He again vows revenge.

While walking to Prudencio’s house, Tenorio tries to crush Antonio with a horse. Although Antonio escapes, Tenorio states that he will kill Ultima’s spirit.

Antonio runs back to Guadalupe to try to warn Ultima. Tenorio is also present at the Marez house. When he aims his gun at Antonio, Ultima summons her owl to stop Tenorio. In the process, the owl is shot but then Uncle Pedro shoots Tenorio down

The story ends with Ultima giving Antonio her blessing and telling him to the bury the owl under the juniper tree

The resolution is satisfactory because the two good and bad figures have passed away so that balance exists.

Ultima has passed down her wisdom and knowledge to Antonio so Antonio is like her successor (even though he can’t perform healings)

The death of Ultima signifies Antonio’s passing from childhood to adolescent

The ending was foreshadowed because Tenorio has been planning to kill Ultima for a quite a long time

8. Themes:

One theme could be the tough transition of childhood to adolescent. Antonio was innocent and naive at the start of the novel. After the deaths, introduction to the a new religion, the traumatic experience with Andrew at the brothel, and school he goes through much self-contemplation, gains much knowledge and transforms into a responsible adult.

Another theme could be how one’s culture affects one’s identity. The customs that one grows up with influences how they will be when they are older. Antonio grew up with farmers as parents and was raised in the Catholic faith. This will stay with him for the rest of his life.

9. Symbols/Archetypes:

The golden carp symbolizes other faiths. Other faiths can explain the world in a different light and may appeal to some but not to others. However, all faiths offer an legitimate explanation of the world. Antonio combines Catholicism and the religion of the golden carp to find answers to his questions

The Virgin Guadalupe could represent forgiveness because Antonio only sees the God the Father as a merciless figure. Antonio greatly admires the Virgin because he cannot reconcile with the unforgiving Almighty God.

The owl symbolizes Ultima’s spirit and soul. It attacks Tenorio and the wolves which are evil. It also watches over and protects Antonio. Antonio feels calm when he is in its presence. Because of the owl’s interconnectedness with Ultima, if one dies, so does the other.

Other symbols include Narciso’s garden, the river, and the bridge

10. Parallel events/parallel works:

The novel’s events are parallel to the some aspects of Anaya’s childhood

The novel’s time period is also set around the end of World War II because Antonio’s brother return when the war ends.

Bless Me, Ultima is also the first of a trilogy of stories written by Anaya.

Each time someone perishes, Antonio has contemplative and symbolic dreams

11. Style:

Bless Me, Ultima is a magical realism novel and also a coming of age novel

The narrator is an adult Antonio looking back at the past.

Because of Anaya’s root and the story’s setting, some Spanish is used in the novel

Anaya also uses dreams to show what conflicts are going on inside Antonio’s head and they sometimes even foreshadow events. He sets them off from the rest of the text by using italics

12. Significant lines:

“But all that would only be the ceremony that was prescribed by custom. Ultima was really buried here. Tonight”

“I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live. Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you-“

“The tragic consequences of life can be overcome by the magical strength that resides in the human heart”

“A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer. . . . The mass was ending, the fleeting mystery was already vanishing”

“Ultima took my hand and I felt the power of a whirlwind sweep around me”


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