Bless Me, Ultima


Rudolfo Anaya

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Themes and Colors
Growing Up Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Christianity vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Bless Me, Ultima, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Growing Up

The story of Bless Me, Ultima is built around Antonio's early coming-of-age experiences. The book is an example of "bildungsroman," or a tale of the growth of a character, though Antonio has to deal with issues that most six-year-olds don't have to, like magic, existential religious doubts, and murder. His largest childhood influence is his parents, and each parent has a specific dream for his life path; his mother, a Luna

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Punishment and Forgiveness

Much of the plot is powered by different characters' desires for revenge and punishment. Chávez wants revenge against Lupito, Tenorio wants revenge against Ultima and Narciso, and even Ultima wants to punish Tenorio for tampering with fate. It seems that the gods also have a similar human need for punishment – at first it is only the Christian God with his horribly eternal Hell, but even the golden carp plans to drown all…

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The story of Antonio's coming of age is intertwined with his quest for knowledge. He is always asking questions, and is most excited about Communion because it will mean gaining knowledge of God. Ultima is a symbol of a different, mysterious kind of knowledge, as she knows people's fates, the ways of the earth, and healing herbs and magic spells.

Throughout the book knowledge is also associated with growing up and losing innocence. Florence

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Language and Culture

Bless Me, Ultima is an example of Chicano literature, and one of Anaya's primary goal in writing it was to fashion a cultural identity for himself and his community. Much of Antonio's experience is based on a meeting of cultures and a search for identity among the Spanish, Native American, and English-American societies. Ultima is a symbol of indigenous influences and the supernatural, pre-Christian world, while Antonio's school represents the English-speaking society. The Luna

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Christianity vs. the Supernatural

Bless Me, Ultima is written in the magical realist style, where fantastical elements are treated as a part of daily life. Ultima's powers, the brujas (witches), and the golden carp all create a dreamlike feeling that emphasizes the blend of new and ancient cultures. Only Christianity seems free from the supernatural, which plays a major role in Antonio's doubts. Catholicism condemns magic as evil, but the priests fail at stopping Tenorio's curses…

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