Bless Me, Ultima

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
A kind, elderly curandera (healing-woman) who comes to live with the Márez family. Ultima has strange powers and shares a deep connection with the earth. She befriends Antonio and becomes his mentor and guide. Ultima symbolizes the mysterious powers of the indigenous peoples as well as the spirit of the land itself, although she is misunderstood by many to be an evil witch. Her owl acts as a protector and is also the embodiment of her soul, so she dies when it does.

Ultima Quotes in Bless Me, Ultima

The Bless Me, Ultima quotes below are all either spoken by Ultima or refer to Ultima. 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
).
Chapter 1 (Uno) Quotes

Ultima came to stay with us the summer I was almost seven. When she came the beauty of the llano unfolded before my eyes, and the gurgling waters of the river sang to the hum of the turning earth. The magical time of childhood stood still, and the pulse of the living earth pressed its mystery into my living blood.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima
Chapter 2 (Dos) Quotes

"The ways of men are strange, and hard to learn."

Related Characters: Ultima (speaker)
Chapter 3 (Tres) Quotes

"But I want to know, there are so many things I want to know," I insisted.
"A curandera cannot give away her secrets," she said, "but if a person really wants to know, then he will listen and see and be patient. Knowledge comes slowly--"

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima (speaker)
Chapter 4 (Cuatro) Quotes

"It is the blood of the Lunas to be quiet, for only a quiet man can learn the secrets of the earth that are necessary for planting – They are quiet like the moon – And it is the blood of the Márez to be wild, like the ocean from which they take their name, and the spaces of the llano that have become their home."

Related Characters: Ultima (speaker)
Chapter 6 (Seis) Quotes

"Ay! My man of learning!" my mother smiled when I entered the kitchen. She swept me in her arms and before I knew it she was crying on my shoulder. "My baby will be gone today," she sobbed.
"He will be all right," Ultima said. "The sons must leave the sides of their mothers," she said almost sternly and pulled my mother gently.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima (speaker), María Luna Márez (speaker)
Chapter 10 (Diez) Quotes

The power of the doctors and the power of the church had failed to cure my uncle. Now everyone depended on Ultima's magic. Was it possible that there was more power in Ultima's magic than in the priest?

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima
Chapter 11 (Once) Quotes

"The golden carp," I whispered in awe. I could not have been more entranced if I had seen the Virgin, or God Himself… I felt my body trembling as I saw the bright golden form disappear. I knew I had witnessed a miraculous thing, the appearance of a pagan god… And I thought, the power of God failed where Ultima's worked; and then a sudden illumination of beauty and understanding flashed through my mind. This is what I had expected God to do at my first holy communion!

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima

"Antonio," she said calmly and placed her hand on my shoulder, "I cannot tell you what to believe. Your father and your mother can tell you, because you are their blood, but I cannot. As you grow into manhood you must find your own truths -- "

Related Characters: Ultima (speaker), Antonio Juan Márez, Gabriel Márez, María Luna Márez
Chapter 12 (Doce) Quotes

Ultima and I continued to search for plants and roots in the hills. I felt more attached to Ultima than to my own mother. Ultima told me the stories and legends of my ancestors. From her I learned the glory and tragedy of the history of my people, and I came to understand how that history stirred in my blood.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima, María Luna Márez

"Your evil bird has blinded me!" he cried. "For that I curse you! I will see you dead! And you, Narciso, I swear to kill you!"

Related Characters: Tenorio Trementina (speaker), Ultima, Narciso
Chapter 14 (Catorce) Quotes

And I remembered my dream. Andrew had said that he would not enter the house of the naked women until I had lost my innocence. Had I already lost my innocence? How? I had seen Lupito murdered… I had seen Ultima's cure… I had seen the men come to hang her… I had seen the awful fight just now… I had seen and reveled in the beauty of the golden carp!

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima, Andrew Márez, Lupito
Chapter 16 (Dieciseis) Quotes

I could not understand why Narciso, who did good in trying to help Ultima, had lost his life; and why Tenorio, who was evil and had taken a life, was free and unpunished. It didn't seem fair. I thought a great deal about God and why he let such things happen.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima, Tenorio Trementina, Narciso
Chapter 20 (Veinte) Quotes

"Ah, there is no freedom like the freedom of the llano!" my father said and breathed in the fresh, clean air.
"And there is no beauty like this earth," Ultima said. They looked at each other and smiled, and I realized that from these two people I had learned to love the magical beauty of the wide, free earth.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima (speaker), Gabriel Márez (speaker)
Chapter 22 (Veintidos) Quotes

"Ay," she tried to smile, "life is filled with sadness when a boy grows to be a man. But as you grow into manhood you must not despair of life, but gather strength to sustain you – can you understand that."

Related Characters: Ultima (speaker)

"Ay, every generation, every man is a part of his past. He cannot escape it, but he may reform the old materials, make something new --"
"Take the llano and the river valley, the moon and the sea, God and the golden carp – and make something new," I said to myself. That is what Ultima meant by building strength from life. "Papá," I asked, "can a new religion be made?"

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Gabriel Márez (speaker), Ultima

And that is what Ultima tried to teach me, that the tragic consequences of life can be overcome by the magical strength that resides in the human heart.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima

"Bless me, Ultima --"
Her hand touched my forehead and her last words were, "I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live. Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evening when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you --"

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Ultima (speaker)
Get the entire Bless Me, Ultima LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bless me ultima.pdf.medium

Ultima Character Timeline in Bless Me, Ultima

The timeline below shows where the character Ultima appears in Bless Me, Ultima. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 (Uno)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Antonio Márez remembers when he was six years old and Ultima came to live with his family. He begins the story as a child lying in... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
They talk about how Ultima has helped them in the past and tended to María when her sons were born,... (full context)
...the first time soon. His sisters, Deborah and Theresa, giggle and ask rude questions about Ultima before she arrives. María gets angry and demands that they respect Ultima and call her... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...happy, so he does it. Soon the family's truck approaches: it is Gabriel returning with Ultima. Theresa is afraid, but Deborah, who speaks only English now, reassures her. María scolds them... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Ultima steps from the truck and the children greet her formally, but when Antonio takes her... (full context)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Ultima enters the house and Antonio smells the fragrance of many herbs surrounding her. An owl... (full context)
Chapter 2 (Dos)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Ultima quickly assumes the family's routine, helping with the chores and listening to Gabriel's frustrated dream... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio enters the house and Ultima greets him gives him some medicine to drink. She tries to soothe his questions about... (full context)
Chapter 3 (Tres)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio wakes up to the white sun and finds that Ultima's potion has healed his cuts. He thinks about Lupito's soul and wonders if it is... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
They get ready for church and Ultima asks how Antonio is doing. María scolds him for not greeting Ultima formally enough, but... (full context)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
They get ready for mass and María and Ultima wear black because so many families are mourning sons and husbands lost in the war.... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio asks Ultima about his father's soul and how he can take communion if he killed a man... (full context)
Chapter 4 (Cuatro)
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Ultima and Antonio gather herbs in the llano together every morning, and Ultima teaches him about... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...they sit by the river and eat prickly pears. Antonio asks about his family and Ultima explains how the Márez are loud and wild like the ocean, while the Lunas are... (full context)
Chapter 5 (Cinco)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...only ten miles from Guadalupe, but it is the only trip the family ever takes. Ultima goes with them this time. María gets very excited when they reach her hometown, but... (full context)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio's grandfather is named Prudencio. María greets him excitedly and then Ultima hugs him like an old friend. They discuss the boys away at war, and Lupito,... (full context)
Chapter 6 (Seis)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...offends his wife. She starts to cry when she thinks about Antonio growing up, but Ultima reminds her that all sons must leave someday. (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Antonio thinks of what Jasón told him about the magic in written letters, and how Ultima cannot protect him at school. Deborah uses English slang and her father disapproves. María goes... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
They are finally ready to go and María asks Ultima to bless the children. When she places her hand on Antonio's head he again feels... (full context)
Chapter 9 (Nueve)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...gains knowledge, and when he takes communion Antonio will know about good and evil. Then Ultima appears and says that innocence exists in the llano, among nature. (full context)
Chapter 10 (Diez)
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...of El Puerto failed to cure him. Pedro Luna arrives and after much ceremony asks Ultima if she will come with him to heal Lucas. (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Ultima agrees, but she reminds them of the consequences of tampering with fate. Pedro accepts responsibility.... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Ultima gathers her herbs and declares her readiness, looking small but dignified. She says Antonio must... (full context)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...to El Puerto. On the way, they see an omen of the horned moon, which Ultima says is good luck for the Lunas as they live and farm by the cycles... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...saloon, and at first he will not look at them. When he finally turns to Ultima his face is dark and cruel, and he makes the sign of the cross and... (full context)
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...an ominous dust storm and Tenorio tries to run them over with his horse, but Ultima pulls Antonio aside just in time. The mourning women hurry away from the Luna house... (full context)
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio wonders if Ultima can succeed where the Church failed. Ultima bathes Lucas and prepares an herbal remedy. They... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Coyotes howl outside the house but than Ultima's owl appears and attacks them. Antonio slips into a dream state and Ultima feeds Lucas... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio wakes up and Ultima says they have defeated the death spirit, but the evil spirit remains. She makes another... (full context)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
When he wakes up Ultima feeds Antonio more atole, and says Lucas has been almost healed. Antonio vomits and then... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Everyone enters the house rejoicing and thanking Ultima, but she tries to slip away. She says maybe the Lunas will save her life... (full context)
Chapter 11 (Once)
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...that made them trust Antonio. The gang of town boys appears and makes fun of Ultima, and Horse puts Antonio in a headlock. Antonio feels sick from the heat and the... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Antonio asks Ultima about the golden carp, and she smiles and says she cannot tell him what to... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...of the ocean which binds him to the golden carp. The apocalypse begins, but then Ultima appears and calms the storm. She lectures Gabriel and María that the waters of the... (full context)
Chapter 12 (Doce)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Antonio spends the summer thinking of the golden carp and Ultima's cure of Lucas. Gabriel starts drinking more and often complains about how his sons have... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
One night Antonio asks about the three dolls on Ultima's shelf, especially one of them that seems twisted with pain. Ultima won't let Antonio touch... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...from the people of El Puerto. María does not like anyone from the llano except Ultima and Narciso, both of whom helped her in times of great need. (full context)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
One night Narciso suddenly bursts in to the family's house, yelling that Ultima must hide. He rambles about Tenorio, and the owl gives a cry of warning from... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Narciso and María want Ultima to flee, as the men pursuing her are drunk and don't need proof that she... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...bruja could pass through such a door, and that this is a true test if Ultima is a witch. Ultima appears and Tenorio accuses her to her face. Suddenly the owl... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Tenorio is enraged and vows to kill both Ultima and Narciso one day, but finally the men pull him away and go. As the... (full context)
Chapter 13 (Trece)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 14 (Catorce)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...pleased, but he warns Antonio to watch out for the other kids, especially because of Ultima and her encounter with Tenorio, which they won't understand. (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...of Antonio's brother for "whoring," which Antonio doesn't understand. One of the boys, Ernie, calls Ultima a witch. Antonio starts to fight him and the other boys all pile on. The... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...bartender pulls them apart. Tenorio says another of his daughters is dying, and again accuses Ultima. He threatens Narciso with death and then disappears. (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Narciso is distressed and intends to go warn Ultima that she is in danger. Antonio is also worried, and he follows Narciso. Narciso looks... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...and his communion is still far away, and he wonders if his father can protect Ultima. He slips into a reverie and then hears a gunshot. He comes upon Narciso and... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...with blood on his hands and tells what happened. His parents are in shock but Ultima immediately carries Antonio to bed. He falls into a fever and Ultima tends to him... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...townspeople come to wash in a river of Narciso and Lupito's blood, and then demand Ultima's blood as well. Antonio's brothers appears and ask him to bless and forgive them. Then... (full context)
Chapter 15 (Quince)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...Narciso die, but Andrew doesn't know that Antonio saw him at Rosie's. Christmas comes and Ultima tells Antonio stories about Narciso when he was young and dignified. (full context)
Chapter 16 (Dieciseis)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...killed Narciso. Tenorio sees Antonio and curses at him, and again he vows to kill Ultima. He says his second daughter is dying now. (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
When Antonio gets home and tells Ultima what happened, she makes sure Tenorio didn't hurt Antonio in any way but assures him... (full context)
Chapter 20 (Veinte)
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio spends more time with Ultima and worries that Tenorio is still after her. Téllez, one of Gabriel's old friends, comes... (full context)
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... (full context)
Knowledge 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... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Ultima has them build a platform and cover it with juniper branches, and places three bundles... (full context)
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 22 (Veintidos)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...blood on it, Cico defiles the river by spearing the golden carp, and Tenorio murders Ultima by killing her "night-spirit." Antonio cries out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio wakes from the nightmare and Ultima gives him a potion. She says he has seen too much death for his age... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...understand. God does not give understanding – only experience does. He adds that much of Ultima's magic is just great empathy with other people and the earth. Antonio is not sure... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
...news that Tenorio's second daughter has died, and that Tenorio is again drunk and after Ultima's blood. The Luna brothers decide to help Ultima this time, despite their father's wishes, as... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...hopes Antonio is dead. He vows to avenge his daughters, and says he has discovered Ultima's secret – the owl is Ultima's spirit, so it is the owl he must kill.... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...run the ten miles to Guadalupe, and he thinks of Narciso's last rush to save Ultima. Antonio knows he must defend her because she is a symbol of good overcoming evil.... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...calm, but then Tenorio appears with a rifle. He points the gun at Antonio, but Ultima commands the owl to attack him and Tenorio shoots it. The gunshot seems to shatter... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Antonio sees the owl is dead and looks frantically for Ultima. The others don't understand what the owl means, so they think the danger has passed.... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio enters Ultima's room and sees she is dying. He pleads with her to live, but she accepts... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio kneels and requests a blessing. Ultima asks that he have "the strength to live," and she says she will be there... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...his own, new dream out of the dreams of his past. Later they will bury Ultima with a Catholic mass, but Antonio knows he is really burying her here and now. (full context)