Criticism, the art of judging with knowledge, consists of specific tasks in which one must take in account certain elements as they differentiate a fine work of writing, opposed to a superfluous piece of work. Rudolfo Anaya, the author of Bless Me Ultima, presents important elements such as the use of symbolism, dealing with internal struggles, and the use of characterization. .
Conflict plays a big role in this novel, especially within the protagonist, Antonio. Not only does Anaya present the conflict, but he also shows how Antonio deals with them becoming part of his maturity. From the very beginning of the story, Antonio struggles with the idea of his parents choosing his destiny for him. Only later on in the novel, Antonio becomes old enough to decide on his own destiny. I enjoyed seeing Antonio develop from a little, innocent boy into a smarter, more aware young man. .
The frequent use of symbolism keeps me, the reader, pondering as well as interested in the book. A major symbol in Bless Me Ultima is Ultima's owl. This owl supposedly protects Antonio from all the dangers of the world. Irony becomes present during the event of the owl's death. Supposedly this owl has magic powers to heal and protect, yet it can not stop death from happening. This type of symbolism and irony made me reflect on how real life events happen all the time while nothing can be done to stop it. .
Antonio and Ultima are seen as the two main characters in this novel. I found it interesting how in the beginning of the novel Ultima begins to protect Antonio. Yet, his innocence is violated when Antonio witnesses the murder of Lupito. I enjoyed the change in Antonio's character as he began to wonder about more adult-like topics such as death, or sin. Even though Ultima supposedly protects Antonio from all evils of the world, it lies in Antonio's destiny to be educated of the bad as well as the good.
Advanced use of characterization, symbolism, and internal conflict makes Anaya's story well told as well as didactic.