Bless Me, Ultima

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One of Antonio's friends from town, a blond boy who doesn't believe in God. Florence perceptively points out the flaws in Catholic doctrine, and is bitter against God (or the lack thereof) for his harsh life and the evils of the world. He drowns before Antonio can show him the golden carp.

Florence Quotes in Bless Me, Ultima

The Bless Me, Ultima quotes below are all either spoken by Florence or refer to Florence. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Warner Books edition of Bless Me, Ultima published in 1994.
Chapter 17 (Diecisiete) Quotes

There seemed to be so many pitfalls in the questions we asked. I wanted answers to the questions, but would the knowledge of the answers make me share in the original sin of Adam and Eve?
"And if we didn't have any knowledge?" I asked.
"Then we would be like the dumb animals of the fields," Florence replied.
Animals, I thought. Were the fish of the golden carp happier than we were? Was the golden carp a better God?

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Florence (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

Antonio has been going to Catholic catechism class, preparing for his First Communion and hoping for answers to some of his existential questions, but he only feels more conflicted the more he learns. Here he talks with his friend Florence, who is an anomaly among Antonio's peers—he is an atheist.

In this passage knowledge is again associated with sin, and with the "sorrow" of growing up and losing one's innocence. This is also reinforced by the Adam and Eve story, in which their "original sin" was essentially seeking knowledge that was forbidden to them. Antonio wants to avoid sharing in this sin, but he is also insatiably curious, and furthermore wants to take Communion precisely so he can gain knowledge—but, presumably, knowledge of divine origin that is somehow not "sinful." This seeming contradiction is, of course, confusing to Antonio, and Florence's defiant defense of Adam and Eve's sin only adds to his inner conflict. Lastly, this conflict again makes Antonio consider the golden carp, and wonder whether it would be a "better god"—here not because the carp is more merciful or natural, but rather because the carp is a "dumb animal," neither offering nor forbidding any kind of knowledge at all.

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Chapter 19 (Diecinueve) Quotes

I closed my eyes and concentrated. I had just swallowed Him, He must be in there! For a moment, on the altar railing, I thought I had felt His warmth, but then everything moved so fast. There wasn't time just to sit and discover Him, like I could do when I sat on the creek bank and watched the golden carp swim in the sun-filtered waters.
God! Why did Lupito die?
Why do you allow the evil of the Trementinas?
Why did you allow Narciso to be murdered when he was doing good?
Why do you punish Florence? Why doesn't he believe?
Will the golden carp rule - ?
A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Tenorio Trementina, Narciso, Florence, Lupito, The Trementina Sisters
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Antonio finally receives his First Communion. He has been hoping that with the wafer will come divine knowledge and answers to his many questions about God, life, and death—but Antonio feels and hears nothing, and is devastatingly disappointed. According to Catholic doctrine, Jesus is actually physically present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, and so Antonio assumes that because he has eaten the wafer, "He must be in there"—God must be inside of him now, and thus he should be getting some answers. Antonio then gives a brief list of some of the questions that have been tormenting him the most, offering a good encapsulation of many of the book's plot points and themes up to now.

Ultimately, this moment creates an increased sense of disillusionment with Christianity for Antonio, but it also allows him to articulate some of the larger themes behind his questions—why sometimes good people are punished and bad ones "forgiven," how seemingly contradictory cultures and religions could be reconciled, and even why death itself exists in a world supposedly created by a benevolent God.

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Florence Character Timeline in Bless Me, Ultima

The timeline below shows where the character Florence appears in Bless Me, Ultima. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3 (Tres)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...wait with some older boys from town. Ernie, Horse, Bones, the Vitamin Kid, Abel, and Florence argue about Lupito, curse, and fight. Horse and Bones are wild and unpredictable, the Vitamin... (full context)
Chapter 17 (Diecisiete)
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
On the day before catechism, Florence asks Antonio difficult questions about sin and fairness. When the other boys arrive, they ask... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Florence discusses his sad past and how if God existed he must be cruel and unfair.... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio and Florence are late to catechism class and Father Byrnes warns Antonio about talking to Florence. Antonio... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...first day of eternity. The children are shocked by the horror of this image, but Florence remains standing, unafraid. (full context)
Chapter 18 (Dieciocho)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...catechism class, although the knowledge he gains about hell in catechism is terrifying. He begs Florence to confess and take communion so he will be saved from hell, but Florence refuses.... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...bigger sin, which is watching a couple having sex by the lake. The kids make Florence confess next, but he says he doesn't have any sins. This enrages the rest of... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio realizes what he must do, and he declares no penance for Florence, and that he is absolved. The children turn their rage towards Antonio and beat him... (full context)
Chapter 21 (Veintiuno)
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...choose to be the priest for, God or the golden carp. Cico decides to show Florence the carp, and Antonio is excited. They go to find Florence where the other boys... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
The kids wave at them frantically and look upset, and Horse says that Florence hasn't come up from the water. They are all afraid he has drowned. Cico is... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
...is angry that they were swimming by the wall, which is not allowed, and that Florence has ruined his "perfect record." Horse and the other boys lie and say that they... (full context)
Chapter 22 (Veintidos)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...that they are his brothers, but actually they turn out to be Lupito, Narciso, and Florence, the three people he has watched die and said Acts of Contrition for "in his... (full context)