Bless Me Ultima - A Religious Struggle
Only a few books dare to discuss the confusion surrounded by a religious awakening. In Bless Me Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya, Premio Quinto Sol national Chicano literary award recipient, challenges standard religion and brings in different ideas through the perspective of a young and confused boy. Due to the new ideas that he is introduced to, the events that occurs especially deaths, and his eagerness for knowledge all leads Antonio to question his religious beliefs. At the end of his struggle to understand, the boy reaches the peace of mind he was seeking.
Throughout the book Antonio is introduced to many new ideas. The first is the experiences he has with Ultima. Ultima is a healer who learned her techniques from an old wise man on the llano or prairie. She is sometimes called a bruja or witch. This confuses Antonio because in his heart he knows Ultima represents good and not the evil she is sometimes blamed for. Antonio learns some of the ways of Ultima and begins to understand his surroundings. He knows the name of almost every plant and what medicinal use each has. As the novel continues there is a stronger interpretation of Ultima’s powers as she heals Antonio’s Uncle Lucas. This is the beginning of good versus evil or god versus the devil, Lucas had seen Tenerio’s daughters performing devil worship in the woods and in return the daughters placed a curse on his hair. When the curse was revoked by Ultima it went into effect against the daughters and as they began to die Tenerio went into an evil rage against the powers of Ultima. Antonio was then introduced to the Golden Carp and the story of the waters surrounding the town and its influence, which also allows Antonio to question the influence of god within his life, and the new power behind the carp.
The next revelation for Antonio is the myth of the golden carp. Antonio learns about the golden carp from Cico, a friend of his. According to Cico, the golden carp was once a god who loved the people of Antonio's town, Guadalupe. The people were not allowed to fish for the brown carp that lived in the river that flowed around the town. These fish were sacred to the gods. However, because of a drought and no food, the people had to eat the carp to survive. This angered the gods. They wanted to punish all the people by death but "they relented from killing the people. Instead, they turned the people into carp and made them live forever in the waters of the river-". The god who loved the people wished to become a carp like them to protect them from the dangers of the river. The gods agreed and "because he was a god they made him very big and colored him the color gold". Antonio cannot believe there is a new god and seeks answers from Ultima. Ultima is pleased that he has learned so much, but says she cannot tell him what to believe for he must decide for himself. The Golden Carp represents all the questions Tony has about religion and...