Bless Me, Ultima

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Bless Me, Ultima Chapter 20 (Veinte) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the last day of school Antonio is still unsatisfied with communion and he still struggles to navigate between the different dreams his parents have for him. On the way home he challenges the Vitamin Kid to race as usual, but the Kid refuses and instead keeps walking with a girl. Antonio feels melancholy that things are changing.
Antonio's faith is shaken by the disappointing communion, and he connects his conflict between religions to the conflict between his parents – and both are indeed part of his struggle for a Chicano identity. Antonio feels some of Gabriel's nostalgia.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Antonio spends more time with Ultima and worries that Tenorio is still after her. Téllez, one of Gabriel's old friends, comes to visit and complains that his house is haunted by devils, and his family is miserable and can't eat or sleep. Stones fall from the sky and their pots and pans crash against the walls. They asked the priest to help but he failed to banish the ghosts. Gabriel is skeptical but Téllez says to come and see, and Gabriel agrees. Gabriel returns that night and says that it is all true.
People continue to trust in Ultima's powers, even though they go to the priest first, as this is more socially correct. Antonio cannot help but notice that once again a priest has failed at banishing evil, and Antonio wonders if Ultima's powers will prove greater than the Church's once more.
Themes
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Ultima explains the situation – the house is haunted by the spirits of three Comanche Indians that Téllez's grandfather left unburied. Brujas have awakened the spirits and made them do evil things. Gabriel formally asks Ultima and she agrees to go banish the spirits if Gabriel will accept the responsibility for tampering with fate. Antonio comes too.
The story returns to the world of the supernatural, where Ultima is a commanding figure. The introduction of ancient Comanches emphasizes Ultima's association with Native American heritage.
Themes
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
They drive out to the llano and Gabriel and Ultima share their love for the freedom and beauty of the land. They reach Téllez's house and Ultima enters. A darkness fills the sky and rocks fall from nowhere onto the roof. Everyone is terrified but then they step outside and everything seems normal.
Gabriel and Ultima have both taught Antonio to find peace in Nature and from the earth as much as in God or religion. Undeniable supernatural activities return, putting everything else in perspective.
Themes
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
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Ultima has them build a platform and cover it with juniper branches, and places three bundles onto it. They light it on fire and Antonio wonders if the bundles are the Indian spirits. Gabriel says that this is the way Comanches used to bury their dead. That night Ultima's owl sings and cheers them up. Ultima says maybe she would like to be buried this way when she dies, and she tells Téllez the curse is lifted, but to stay away from Tenorio. Téllez remembers that Tenorio had insulted him a while ago, but did not realize the extent of his evil grudges. He thanks Ultima.
Junipers are again associated with Ultima and death (the tree where Narciso was killed), but here it is explained that they were also part of ancient Comanche burial rites. Ultima speaks of her own death and in doing so reminds Antonio (and the reader) that she came to the family's house to spend the last days of her life. Tenorio's far-reaching vengeance and hatred manifests itself again.
Themes
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
That night, back in his bed at home, Antonio dreams of his brothers, and they beg him for relief from their restless Márez blood. He uses their livers for fish bait and they ask him to use the power of God, Ultima, or the golden carp to help them. He casts their livers into the river and they all find rest.
Antonio must save his dream-brothers again in a quasi-priest role – this might be an example of the kind of "priest" he would be for the golden carp. The powers of God, Ultima, and the golden carp are finally lined up as equal.
Themes
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon