Bless Me, Ultima character analysis - Essay Example

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Bless Me, Ultima is Rudolfo Anaya’s coming of age novel of about boy, Antonio Marez, who had to struggle in order to harmonize within himself several rival influences such as contending blood strains, the native Spanish with the English educational establishment as well as the…
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Bless Me, Ultima character analysis
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Bless Me, Ultima” Character Analysis Bless Me, Ultima is Rudolfo Anaya’s coming of age novel of about boy, Antonio Marez, who had to struggle in order to harmonize within himself several rival influences such as contending blood strains, the native Spanish with the English educational establishment as well as the mystical lore of native America with the religious teaching of the Catholic Church.
One of the most fascinating characters in the story is Ultima, herself. She is the curandera or the shaman who is revered and feared by the community. Ultima became the most influential person in Antonio’s growing up years because she offered a way for him to reconcile his struggle with disharmony in his environment. That is why of all her traits, I will focus on Ultima’s firm belief in balance which made her character some sort of a bridge in the problematic conflict of belief systems in the story.
My analysis of Ultima starts with her role as a curandera as it reflects some form of universal principle. A shaman or the spiritual leader in a community is useful and performs an important function in authentic culture. She can resort to dreams and visions for help and guidance but she can also resort to the use medical arts with her herbal remedies and her vast experience in healing. Indeed, Ultima is adamant that disharmony and imbalance cause a disruption of health while her approach to healing is aimed at achieving a certain oneness and harmony with nature.
Anaya established Ultima’s mediator function from the outset – her role in Antonio’s life – as he narrated:
Let me begin at the beginning. I do not mean the beginning that was in my dreams and the stories they whispered to me about my birth and the people of my father and mother, and my three brothers – but the beginning that came with Ultima. (Anaya 1991, 1)
Anaya also attributes to Ultima, on one the hand the mythical Good Earth Mother and the religious Virgin of Guadalupe, on the other. In the novel, the Good Earth Mother often appears in Antonio’s dreams while the Virgin of Guadalupe is her mother’s spiritual protector. While they both hail from differing establishments they both represent one archetypal feminine principle – the intuitive, loving, life affirming protector and nurturer.
Ultima’s character as presented showed that belief systems cannot be always mutually exclusive. Ultima as wise, complex and mysterious stemmed from her openness to receive, understand, assimilate and balance values that do not merely come from a single source, cultural grouping or belief. That is why she is tolerant and understanding as one of her main teachings to Antonio emphasized that those different belief systems, if viewed in the right perspective, can present equally valid claims at understanding the world. (Anaya 2002, 7)
Just like Antonio, I see Ultima as the embodiment of Anaya’s own suggestions at resolving the Chicano community’s own conflicts that permeated sometime in the 1960s and the 1970s. She steered the novel into becoming part of a mediation process or at least, some semblance to it which proposes alternative responses of love, harmony, brotherhood of all creatures with the factor of ecological integration thrown in.
Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima. TQS Publications, 1991.
Anaya, Rudolfo. Spark Notes: Bless Me, Ultima. Spark Publishing Group, 2002. Read More
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