Bless Me, Ultima

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Bless Me, Ultima Chapter 13 (Trece) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pedro Luna comes the next day to bring the family to El Puerto, and it is the first time Gabriel goes with them to help the Lunas with the harvest. There is a rumor in town that the priest will not let Tenorio's daughter into the church for mass because she was a bruja. They drive through Guadalupe and Antonio thinks about the golden carp's punishment of water and God's punishment of fire. He wonders if there is any god that doesn't always punish people, but would forgive them in their lostness and confusion. He thinks the Virgin Mary could be a god like that.
Antonio continues to fear the apocalypse and question the fairness of punishment that both gods seem to demand. The Virgin of Guadalupe is proposed as an alternative but also a synthesis of the Catholic God and the golden carp, as she has aspects of both Christian tradition and New-World culture. Her forgiving, understanding nature is most similar to Ultima, however, and because he is so young, Antonio still feels closest to mother-figures.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
As they drive Antonio asks his uncle Pedro why the Lunas did not warn them about Tenorio coming from El Puerto, since Ultima had saved Lucas's life. Pedro says their father forbade them to disrupt the town's harmony by passing judgment on the Trementinas, but it was still a cowardly act and he is ashamed. If another time of danger comes he swears to do his duty. Antonio thinks about Tenorio and his unjust attack against Ultima, and he feels he can understand how God would not forgive certain people if God holds grudges like men do.
The Lunas are compared unfavorably with Gabriel and Narciso here, as they neglected to stand up for Ultima and instead favored a civilized "harmony" that was really just a screen for staying out of harms way. This behavior shows even more flaws in the adults Antonio most looks up to. Antonio's realization of his own grudge against Tenorio gives him a very mature epiphany, and he is able to empathize with the punishing gods, or at least with the humans who worship such punishing gods.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
As the Lunas work at the harvest they whisper rumors about the Trementinas and the devilish "Black Mass" they will perform over the dead daughter. That night Antonio dreams of the same Black Mass, but then in the coffin he sees Ultima. The dream awakens him and Antonio sees Ultima watching a funeral procession for the dead Trementina daughter pass.
Ultima is again associated with the brujas, as Antonio struggles to decipher what is good and what is evil in both the supernatural and "real" worlds. Such situations of moral ambiguity are some of the hardest parts of his coming of age.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
The procession tries to enter the church but the priest blocks their path. Tenorio and his daughters are angry, but the whole town has seen their excommunication. They have to bury the daughter in unholy ground now. The Trementinas pass by, wailing, and Tenorio gives Ultima the evil eye. When the work for harvest is completed Antonio's family prepares to return to Guadalupe, but as they depart Juan Luna asks that Antonio come stay next summer and learn their farming ways.
Society condemns the Trementinas as brujas now, which seems satisfying except for the reminder that they condemned Ultima as well – and the people's rejection of the Trementinas might be just as unfair. The Lunas continue to hope that Antonio will follow in their footsteps as he grows.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
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