Bless Me, Ultima

The Golden Carp Symbol Analysis

The Golden Carp Symbol Icon
Antonio discovers the golden carp at a time when he is starting to doubt his mother's Catholicism. The golden carp is supposedly a god sent to guide the other carp, who were once ancient people who sinned. Tony can actually see the carp and feel a sense of enlightenment, as opposed to the seeming ineffectiveness of the Christian God. The carp at first represents the ancient Native-American ways and an alternative to Catholicism (and so another half of Tony's religious struggle), but later Tony learns that the carp also plans on drowning the town's sinners, so it then seems like yet another unforgiving male god.

The Golden Carp Quotes in Bless Me, Ultima

The Bless Me, Ultima quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Golden Carp. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Warner Books edition of Bless Me, Ultima published in 1994.
Chapter 9 (Nueve) Quotes

"The golden carp," I said to myself, "a new god?" I could not believe this strange story, and yet I could not disbelieve Samuel. "Is the golden carp still here?"
"Yes," Samuel answered. His voice was strong with faith. It made me shiver, not because it was cold but because the roots of everything I had ever believed in seemed shaken. If the golden carp was a god, who was the man on the cross? The Virgin? Was my mother praying to the wrong God?

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Samuel (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp, The Virgin of Guadalupe
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

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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
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp, The Virgin of Guadalupe
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

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"But it's not fair to those who don't sin!" I countered.
"Tony," Cico said softly, "all men sin."
I had no answer to that. My own mother had said that losing your innocence and becoming a man was learning to sin. I felt weak and powerless in the knowledge of the impending doom.

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker), Cico (speaker), María Luna Márez
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

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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
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

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You foolish boy, God roared, don't you see you are caught in your own trap! You would have a God who forgives all, but when it comes to your personal whims you seek punishment for your vengeance. You would have my mother rule my heavens, you would send all sinners to her for forgiveness, but you would also have her taint her hands with the blood of vengeance
Vengeance is Mine! He shouted, not even your golden carp would give up that power as a god!

Related Characters: Antonio Juan Márez (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp, The Virgin of Guadalupe
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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Chapter 22 (Veintidos) Quotes

"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
Related Symbols: The Golden Carp
Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Golden Carp Symbol Timeline in Bless Me, Ultima

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Golden Carp appears in Bless Me, Ultima. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7 (Siete)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...giants, and they tell him about the wide world they have seen, and mention the golden carp , and ask Antonio to save them. He wakes up sweating and then sees that... (full context)
Chapter 9 (Nueve)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...himself into a carp so he could take care of them. He became a huge golden carp , and he still lives in the river. Antonio is shaken by Samuel's faith in... (full context)
Chapter 10 (Diez)
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Antonio tries to learn more about the golden carp but Samuel is gone for the summer. Gabriel, meanwhile, is sad that his sons have... (full context)
Chapter 11 (Once)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...he hears someone calling his name. Cico appears and says he will show him the golden carp , but first he makes Antonio swear to never kill a carp. They head off... (full context)
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Cico says no one knows about the golden carp except him and Samuel, and it is only a feeling that made them trust Antonio.... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...to a secluded pond on a clear creek called El Rito. They wait for the golden carp , speaking only in whispers, and Cico takes out a spear to hunt the evil... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
Cico points and then salutes, and the golden carp appears. It is bigger than Antonio and covered in golden scales. Antonio feels like he... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...says it is only a game between him and the fish. They wait and the golden carp returns. Antonio worries that a fisherman will catch and kill the carp, but Cico says... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...all the strange and magical things he has learned. Cico tells the prophecy of the golden carp . After the old people were turned into carp, new people came to the valley... (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 believe. When he... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
That night Antonio dreams of all the dead people in the waters of the golden carp . His parents have been spared, but they argue about what water flows in Antonio's... (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... (full context)
Chapter 13 (Trece)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 14 (Catorce)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
...beats them as usual. Andrew hangs back and Antonio tells Samuel how he saw the golden carp . Samuel is pleased, but he warns Antonio to watch out for the other kids,... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...if he has already lost his innocence somehow, and if it is because of the golden carp . (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...wants a god who punishes and forgives according to Antonio's whims – but even the golden carp would not give up the power of punishment. (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
When there is no one left the Lunas gather the ashes and evening comes. The golden carp appears. He has decided that everything will be made new, and he has swallowed even... (full context)
Chapter 17 (Diecisiete)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...maybe God comes in cycles, and maybe when God is gone the Virgin or the golden carp rules in his place. There is a thunderclap as he speaks and Antonio fears that... (full context)
Chapter 18 (Dieciocho)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...take communion so he will be saved from hell, but Florence refuses. Samuel thinks the golden carp might be a better god for Florence, and he and Antonio decide to show the... (full context)
Chapter 20 (Veinte)
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Chapter 21 (Veintiuno)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
It gets warmer and Antonio and Cico go to see the golden carp again. Antonio is still unsure about God, as he failed to heal Lucas or help... (full context)
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
The golden carp appears and Antonio feels peaceful and happy at the sight of it. He wonders what... (full context)
Chapter 22 (Veintidos)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
...an altar by pouring pigeon 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... (full context)