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Bless Me Ultima

             In Rudolfo Anaya's novel Bless Me Ultima, the main character, Tony, is torn between his mother's wish for him to become a priest and his father's wish for him to be a vaquero. These different wishes for his identity also reflect his parent's different religious perspectives. Whereas Tony's mother is a traditional Catholic, Tony's father is a Catholic, but also acknowledges folk religious customs and wisdom. Because traditional Catholicism teaches Tony he can only believe in "one God" he is torn between his parents" beliefs. His mind is full of questions about God: Is there more than one God? Is God all-powerful? Is God just? Why can't the priest heal someone and a folk healer can? Tony comes to some resolution on these issues through the help of the character Ultima who is a curandera, or "healer." Through Ultima's teachings, we see Anaya's challenge to traditional teachings of the Christian Church, and we see Anaya suggesting the need for a more holistic or inclusive view of religion. Although this may seem like a simplistic story of a boy growing up, this novel raises some fairly radical ideas, and major inter-conflicts. .
             This quotation from chapter 11 is Antonio's description of his first sighting of the golden carp. "The orange of the golden carp appeared at the edge of the pond we watched in silence at the beauty and grandeur of the great fish. Out of the corners of my eyes I saw Cico hold his hand to his breast as the golden carp glided by. Then with a switch of his powerful tail the golden carp disappeared into the shadowy water under the thicket." The quotation is important because it represents Antonio's most significant confrontation with a non-Christian faith. Stylistically, it is also an important example of how Anaya adapts his prose style to the emotional and psychological contexts of his characters situations. The golden carp is a natural, pagan deity compared to the Christian God Antonio is used to worshipping.

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