Bless Me, Ultima Short Essay - Answer Key | hidden-facts.info
Identify the three major turning points in Antonio's life. In what sense is Bless Me, Ultima a romance novel? 4. How does Maria view this relationship? 9. In Bless Me, Ultima, Antonio has a terrible nightmare: "It is la llorona, my brothers cried in fear, the old witch who cries along the river banks and seeks the blood. Bless Me, Ultima study guide contains a biography of Rudolfo Bless Me, Ultima Quiz 1 2 Who first takes Antonio to see the golden carp?.
Such a structuralist approach to myth offers some analytical tools which can be applied in a way that avoids ideological analysis and is potentially much more penetrating and historically relevant than traditional thematic or culturalist approaches. The reader of Bless Me, Ultima recognizes the elderly curandera as a kind of repository for the wisdom and knowledge invested in Indo-Hispanic culture.
The novel functions well at this level, for Ultima is indeed in touch with the spirit that moves the land and is intent on conveying this knowledge to Antonio in her indirect and mysterious ways.
Bless Me, Ultima- Final Exam
Yet, the knowledge she commands and the role she plays go far beyond the herbs she utilizes, the stories she saves for the children and her dabbling in "white" witchcraft. The crossed pins, the demon hairballs, the rocks falling from the sky and the fireballs are "colorful" touches which are authentic enough in terms of folk legend. Anaya inserts the "witchery" only after having won the readers' trust in a clever conquest of their disbelief.
However, the enumeration of the standard paraphernalia and the usual supernatural feats of a curandera are neither the reason for nor a barrier to the novel's success. There is an ancient system of knowledge that Ultima exercises that in this novel does not happen to be in the herbs she uses. Any anthropologist is aware that taxonomies such as those of ethnobotany actually contain the philosophical roots and perceptual conventions of the culture.
It is her role as a cultural mediator and Antonio's natural inclination towards a similar calling that link them to their real power, which is the ability to recognize and resolve the internal contradictions of their culture. These oppositions are clearly defined in both social and symbolic terms. If they were, they would then be merely pretexts for a combination mystery story, morality play and Hatfield-McCoy saga with a New Mexican flavor. Something more profound is at work in Bless Me, Ultima, for the oppositions are dialectical, and they are mediated in a way that has counterparts in many different cultures around the earth.
In his comparative studies of origin myths, Claude Levi-Strauss extracts the two most basic and primordial ones which occurred either exclusively or in combination in every culture studied.
The rival origin myth is more empirically based: Then comes the task of finding the first woman. Each lifestyle and the world view it is based on is as compelling, soul satisfying, and original as the other. The opposition as it occurs in the novel may be schematized as follows: The settling down of humankind into the sedentary ways of the neolithic brought with it the emergence of social classes and institutionalized religion and all the economic and social contradictions that accompany the birth of civilization.
Likewise, the agricultural developments of horticulture and animal husbandry are distinct enough to carry with them their own ideologies as evident above. Relating more specifically to the novel in question is the history of the colonization of New Mexico and the tremendous impact of the advent of large scale pastoralism. As grazing became more important, the communal egalitarianism of agrarian society began giving way to an emerging class system based on the partidario grazing system and the rise of patrones bosses.
However, such developments are not evident in the novel, perhaps because its locale, eastern New Mexico, was the last area to be settled before American annexation. The coming of the Texas ranchers, the railroad and the barbed wire destroyed the freedom of the plains.
As the popular saying goes, "Cuando vino el alambre, vino el hambre" when the barbed wire came, so did hunger. When an economic system is threatened, so is its ideology, which becomes nostalgic as its dreams are shattered.
Each felt the importance of having their values dominate in the boy and both vied to establish their influence at the dream scene of Antonio's birth: This one will be a Luna, the old man said, he will be a farmer and keep our customs and traditions.
Perhaps God will bless our family and make the baby a priest. And to show their hope they rubbed the dark earth of the river valley on the baby's forehead, and they surrounded the bed with the fruits of their harvest so the small room smelled of fresh green chile and corn, ripe apples and peaches, pumpkins and green beans.
Then the silence was shattered with the thunder of hoof-beats; vaqueros surrounded the small house with shouts and gunshots, and when they entered the room they were laughing and singing and drinking. Gabriel, they shouted, you have a fine son. He will make a fine vaquero. And they smashed the fruits and vegetables that surrounded the bed and replaced them with a saddle, horse blankets, bottles of whiskey, a new rope, bridles, chapas, and an old guitar.
And they rubbed the stain of earth from the baby's forehead because man was not to be tied to the earth but free upon it. The intervention of Ultima to settle the feud illustrates her role of mediator and demonstrates the basic mechanism of myth.
As in all cultures the thrust of mythical thought progresses from the awareness of oppositions towards their resolution. In Bless Me, Ultima, both the curandera and the boy serve as mediators between the oppositions within their culture. Their intermediary functions can be traced throughout the text.
The middle ground that Ultima and Antonio occupy is evident even in special and geographic terms.
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Ultima has lived on the plain and in the valley, in Las Pasturas as well as in El Puerto de la Luna, gaining the respect of the people in both places. Antonio's family lives in Guadalupe, in a compromise location at mid-point between Las Pasturas and El Puerto. Through the father's insistence, the house is built at the end of the valley where the plain begins.
Antonio mediates between father and mother, trying to please the latter by scraping a garden out of the rocky hillside: Everyday I reclaimed from the rocky soil of the hill a few more feet of earth to cultivate. The land of the llano was not good for farming, the good land was along the river. But my mother wanted a garden and I worked to make her happy. This positioning makes it impossible to take sides in the territorial groupings of his peers.
Anaya explains the power of the curandera as that of the human heart, but in fact demonstrates that it is derived from the knowledge of mythic thought processes, the awareness and resolution of contradictions within the culture.
People turn to Ultima and Antonio at crucial moments in their lives because they are instinctively aware that mediators curanderos and tricksters possess an overview or power of synthesis that can help them resolve their problems. The multiple episodes of Antonio playing the role of priest are especially significant in this light. It is his mother's and her family's dream for Antonio to become a Luna priest and man of knowledge.
In fact he performs the role seriously, administering last rights to Lupito, a war-crazed murderer and Narciso, an ally of Ultima and Antonio's family.
The blessings he bestows on his brothers and his friends are real and invested with a power they never fully realize as they taunt him. In his spiritual searching, Antonio discovers the contradictions in Christianity and realizes that the scope of his mediations would include the "pagan," animistic forces implicit in the very synthesis that he will be a part of: That is what Ultima meant by building strength from life" BMU, p.
The dynamism of mythic thought and its power of synthesis is poignantly expressed in Antonio's description of the feelings and emotions that are aroused by contact with Ultima: She took my hand and I felt the power of a whirlwind sweep around me.
Her eyes swept the surrounding hills and through them I saw for the first time the wild beauty of our hills and the magic of the green river. My nostrils quivered as I felt the song of the mockingbirds and the drone of the grasshoppers mingle with the pulse of the earth. The four directions of the llano met in me, and the white sun shone on my soul.
The granules of sand at my feet and the sun and sky above me seemed to dissolve into one strange, complete being. There are other characters in the novel who demonstrate differing degrees of awareness of this totality, proving that it is indeed a mechanism of popular culture rather than a mystery reserved for a privileged visionary few. A good example is Narciso, a powerful man of the llano who nevertheless lives in the valley, having discovered its secrets. Ample evidence of this is his exuberant, drunken garden, the likes of which not many llaneros plainsmen could foster.
Stand, Antonio, she commanded, and I stood. You both know, she spoke to my father and my mother, that the sweet water of the moon which falls as rain is the same water that gathers into rivers and flows to fill the seas.
Without the waters of the moon to replenish the oceans there would be no oceans. And the same salt waters of the oceans are drawn by the sun to the heavens, and in turn become again the waters of the moon.
Without the sun there would be no waters formed to slake the dark earth's thirst. The waters are one, Antonio. I looked into her bright, clear eyes and understood her truth. You have been seeing only parts, she finished, and not looking beyond into the great cycle that binds us all.
The awareness of the characters of the apocalyptic threat of the atomic bombfirst tested just to the southwest of their fertile valley, demonstrates a real and historical dimension of apocalypse. They sense that the previous balance has been disturbed. The bomb seems to have changed the weather just as surely as World War II has twisted the souls of the men from the area who had fought in it. The need for a synthesis is as urgent as ever in this new time of crisis.
Ultima involves herself in the healing of men who were suffering war-sickness and it is Antonio's role to continue the tradition of mediating old and new contradictions. In one sense Ultima's knowledge may seem mystical because of the way it incorporates nature as well as culture, but when applied to society and history it is penetratingly comprehensive and valid.
After Ultima's death, her knowledge continues in Antonio and the reader feels sure that whatever his fate may be, he possesses the conceptual tools to continue to help his people and culture with their internal conflicts as well as with the oncoming struggle between a whole new set of oppositions stemming from the fast approaching aggressive proximity of the Anglo culture and way of life.
In portraying power as the ability to think and understand in a dialectical way, Anaya demonstrates in Bless Me, Ultima the ancient collective cognitive process of mythical thought in Chicano culture and the importance of those individuals who take on the role of mediators curanderos, tricksters or activists in pointing out and moving towards the resolution of the contradictions generated by human history and new technology.
All quotations are from this edition. Page numbers are noted in text. Anaya," in The Magic of Words: Rudolfo Anaya and His Writings, ed. University of New Mexico Press,pp. University of California, pp.
University of Chicago Press,pp. Basic Books,pp. Marc Simmons, New Mexico: A History New York: Norton,pp. Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, pp. University of New Mexico Press, Yet, it is his prose that shows the greatest promise of transcending the limitations of narrow regionalism and ethnic literatures. The universal thrust of Anaya's creative vision is based in myth, which he defines impressionistically as "the truth in the heart.
Our civilizing and socializing influence has made us not as unified, not as harmonious as archaic man. To go back and get in touch, and to become more harmonious, we go back to the unconscious and we bring out all of the symbols and archetypals that are available to all people. A creator rather than a collector, he transforms indigenous materials into a rich synthesis of symbol and archetype, new, yet "true to the heart.
Critics have been grappling with the dynamics of Anaya's mythopoetics ever since the appearance of Ultima. Yet, the critical analyses of myth has been as impressionistic as the author's. Thematic and archetypal analyses of myth have contributed much to elucidate the content of myth, but little to the understanding of its function as a system of cognition and communication.
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It is this latter aspect of myth that will be emphasized here to understand the achievements as well as the shortcomings of Anaya's mythopoetics. Ultima was serene in the face of this turmoil, full of conflict, yet non combative, a portrait of the developing consciousness of the young protagonist, Antonio.
The metaphysics of this emerging consciousness were so convincingly drawn that no reader doubted that the seeds of social conscience were deeply sown if yet untested in the character. Myth was defined in Ultima as a way of knowing and making sense of the world. But the search for the juncture of the mythic and the revolutionary became overly self-conscious. The mythmak- ing flowed much less intuitively from Anaya's pen the more he pursued his stated purpose of "trying to touch the mythological roots.
However, as in Ultima, the net of symbols underlying the novel is compelling and coherent: What weakens the novel and invalidates it politically speaking for many readers is a neo-classic scheme of mythmaking imposed on it by an author alluding to the classic heroic archetypes outlined by Jung, Campbell, and Eliade: But this is history mystified or "mythefied," to use the Spanish equivalent.
Leaders emerge and to succeed must project a vision that their people share, but history continues to be forged by the masses. But it is ultimately incompatible with the deliberate imposition of classical heroic archetypes.
Several critics attribute the novel's shortcomings to defects in craftsmanship, that Anaya does not allow his symbols to "accumulate enough power in themselves to exercise power in the text," in the words of Juan Bruce Novoa. The defect lies in the overly scholastic conception and application of myth that obscures the juncture of the mythic and the revolutionary that Anaya was seeking. Tortuga represents a return to the intuitive mythmaking of Ultima with a praxis that operates more in the individual soul than in the collective one.
As Anaya has said, "just as the natural end of art is to make us well and to cure our souls, so is our relationship to the earth and its power…. I mean that there is an actual healing power which the epiphany of place provides. The disharmony in the boy's universe has physiological rather than social causes. Social institutions, in this case the hospital, are insensitive to the spiritual content of the healing process.
The boy has to draw healing power directly from the earth itself in his rehabilitation. Besides similarities in symbolism and the evocative if sometimes romanticized handling of poetic imagery, Anaya's three novels share an important structural element in mythmaking: In Bless Me, Ultima the chief mediator is Ultima, the curandera, whose message is that conflict and contradiction are not dichotomous but rather dialectical oppositions in the ongoing cycles of the universe.
All three seers serve integrative functions, pointing out the oneness and sanctity of the universe and the meaning of human life and the healing power of the human heart. The mythopoetics of Rudolfo Anaya pervade the entire body of his creative work including his numerous short stories.
His most comprehensive insight into the workings and cognitive function of myth as an aspect of popular culture is contained in Bless Me, Ultima, the particular focus of this analysis. Anaya strikes a deep chord in portraying two primordial ways of relating to the earth, the pastoral and the agricultural. Bless Me, Ultima is not a quaint, ahistorical sketch of rural folkways, but rather a dialectical exploration of the contradictions between lifestyles and cultures.
A Marxist Structuralist perspective defines this process as myth, the collective interpretation and mediation of the contradictions in the historical and ecological experience of a people. In his account of the relationship between a curandera folk healer and her young apprentice, Anaya deeply penetrates the mythical conscience of the reader. Despite their enthusiasm for his novel, critics have thus far been unable to define the parameters of this response nor probe the reason for its depth.
He needed glasses, and couldn't see the board. He had a long walk. By the time he got to school, he was too tired to learn. He didn't speak English. What did Gabriel Marez want to do once his sons returned from the war? He wanted to buy more land and start a farm. He wanted to move to California. He wanted to go back to the llano and raise cattle. He wanted to retire and let his sons support him. Chapters Nueve-Diez Where were Antonio's brothers in the dream in Chapter 9?
They were in California. They were in heaven. They were overseas in the war. They were at Rosie's house. She said the war ruined them. She said it was because they never went to church. She said their father's drinking was driving them away from home. When Antonio asked Andrew if he Andrew would become a farmer or a priest, Andrew said he would probably end up a vaquero like his father.
False Which of the following statements was not included in Samuel's story of the carp? According to an old Indian legend, a group known as the people settled in the area, and their gods told them not to eat the carp. After a long drought and famine, they ate the carp, which angered the gods. Most of the gods wanted to turn the people into carp. One god turned into the golden carp, the protector of the waters. Which of the following does not describe Tenorio? Tenorio was the father of the three witches.
His wife, now deceased, had been known to work spells. He owned the saloon in El Puerto. He was very rich and well-respected in the town. Chapters Once-Doce What did Antonio discover about Narciso?
He was an artist who painted lovely scenes of the area. He was a gifted musician. Narciso was a very successful gardener. He had twelve of them in his house. With whom did Antonio share his feelings about the presence of the river? Antonio described his mother's definition of learning to sin.
She said it was having bad thoughts. She said it was refusing to go to confession and communion. She said that losing one's innocence and becoming a man was learning to sin. She said it was doing what others said without thinking. Tenorio wanted Ultima to cure his daughter, who was ill. Tenorio said the priest had sent him to get rid of Ultima. Tenorio's daughter wanted to become a curandera. Tenorio blamed Ultima, and was coming to kill her in revenge. Of what did Tenorio accuse Ultima?
He said she was a devil. He said she was a heathen. He said she was a ghoul. He accused her of being a witch. What happened to Tenorio? He fainted from exhaustion. He failed the test he was giving Ultima. He got sick while Ultima was taking the test. Ultima's owl scratched out one of his eyes. Chapters Trece-Catorce Antonio was thinking as the family rode to El Puerto.
Which of the following was not in his thoughts? He wondered which was more powerful-his God or the golden carp. He was wondering why God and the golden carp chose to punish people. He wondered if there could be a forgiving God. He wondered if the Virgin Mary was forgiving or punitive.
What was the effect of the priest's stand on Tenorio and the townspeople? The people lost faith in the priest and asked him to leave town. Tenorio had more influence on the people. Tenorio was not able to influence the people any more.
The townspeople hated both the priest and Tenorio. Why did Antonio always look back when he walked away from the house? He thought it would bring him good luck. He wanted to see if his mother was waving to him. He looked to see if Ultima's owl was nearby to protect her. He had a feeling that everything would be changed before he got home again. He dies in a very bad drowning accident. He disobeys his father when he continues to visit an Indian who lives near the town.
He is described by Antonio as being moody. Cico tells Antonio that the story of the golden carp originally comes from the Indian. When they return home, they suffer post-traumatic stress as a result of the war. Restless and depressed, they all eventually leave home to pursue independent lives, crushing Gabriel's dream of moving his family to California.
Most of the time, they play with dolls and speak English, a language Antonio does not begin to learn until he attends school. They struggle with Gabriel to lay a claim to Antonio's future.
Antonio's uncles are quiet and gentle, and they plant their crops by the cycle of the moon. Father Byrnes — A stern Catholic priest with hypocritical and unfair policies. He teaches catechism to Antonio and his friends. He punishes Florence for the smallest offenses because Florence challenges the Catholic orthodoxy, but he fails to notice, and perhaps even ignores, the misbehavior of the other boys. Rather than teach the children to understand God, he teaches them to fear God.
When Tenorio declares an all out war against Ultima, he does not want his sons to get involved, even though Ultima saved Lucas's life. Miss Maestas — Antonio's first-grade teacher. Although Antonio does not speak English well, Miss Maestas recognizes his bright spark of intelligence. Under her tutelage, Antonio unlocks the secrets of words. She promotes him to the third grade at the end of the year. Miss Violet — Antonio's third grade teacher.
He, with Abel, Bones, Ernie, Horse, Lloyd, Red, and the Vitamin Kid, set up a play about the First Christmas on a dark and snowy night, which turns into a hilarious disaster because of the ever crazy Bones.
Rosie — The woman who runs the local brothel. Antonio has a deep fear of the brothel because it represents sin. He is devastated when he finds out that his brother Andrew frequently goes to it. The flying man — This man was Ultima's teacher and was also known as el hombre volador.
He gave her the owl that became her spirit familiar, her guardian, and her soul. He told her to do good works with her powers, but to avoid interfering with a person's destiny. The invocation of his name inspires awe and respect among the people who have heard about his legendary powers and incites fear in Tenorio Trementina. Literary Interpretations[ edit ] Development of an American Mestizaje, Antonio's Boon[ edit ] After the Mexican Revolution ofthe state officially constructed a Mexican national identity policy on the proposition that Mexicans are the product of a creative mixing of Indians and Europeans—that is, about a fusing together of cultures.
This doctrine is expressed in official rhetoric, mythology and public ceremonial. In practice, however, the emphasis on culture gets conflated with the biological mixing of races, mestizaje in Spanish. The Revolution's goals included returning to Mexico's indigenous peoples their dignity as full-fledged citizens by relieving them from a history of exploitation, providing them with material progress and social justice. In return for this, Mexican Indians would give up their old customs, speak Spanish and join the mainstream of national life, defined as mestizo, the biological issue of mixed-race parentage.
Thus, the Mexican "Mestizaje" has come to represent a policy of cultural assimilation. The result embodies the synergistic integration of both the cultural and biological aspects of his indigenous and European inheritances as the creation of something new. This model repudiates assimilation to the mainstream culture, but embraces acceptance of our historical selves through creative adaptation to the changing world around us.
Margarite Fernandez Olmos comments on the novel's pioneering position in the Chicano literary tradition: In an interview with Margot Kelly, Chavez concludes, "Anaya maintains that the kind of protagonist who will be able to become free is a person of synthesis, a person who is able to draw.
Fernandez Olmos remarks on mentorship: Through all that has transpired between them Antonio is ready near the end of his journey with Ultima to descend into the vast underworld, the great void of the unconscious where there are no divisions —neither of body and soul, nor time and space, nor matter and spirit.
Apocalypse as Revelation, The Hero's Journey, [ edit ] The mythos of any community is the bearer of something which exceeds its own frontiers; it is the bearer of other possible worlds His reconstructive analysis shows how Antonio, as narrator, solves and resolves his troubling metaphysical questions through a series of revelations mediated by Ultima and her otherworldly connections. As more and more is revealed to Tony, a transcendent reality is disclosed which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation; and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.
An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things compare worldviewas in several philosophical tendencies see Political ideologiesor a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society a "received consciousness" or product of socialization.
Myth and magic as healing[ edit ] Because healing is Ultima's mission, Antonio's relationship with her includes accompanying her to gather the curative herbs she knows about through tradition and spiritual revelation. With her Antonio visits the sick and begins to grasp a connection between healing and nature even though he never receives an explicit scientific or grounded explanation for how she foretells future occurrences, heals the infirm, combats witches through casting spells, or when and why she decides not to intervene.
With Antonio, Ultima's relationship as healer is also one of teacher. Cynthia Park considers the relationship between those two roles, and abstracts a set of life-giving principles that form the basis for Ultima's way of knowing. Norbert College, proposes that multicultural literature will take a wide range of perspectives from individuals within historically marginalized groups.
The New York Times reports that Anaya is the most widely read author in Hispanic communities, and sales of his classic, Bless Me, Ultima have surpassedThe general consensus was that the novel provided Chicano literature with a new and refreshing voice. This is a remarkable book, worthy not only of the Premio Quinto Sol literary award. He was in high demand as a speaker and the subject of numerous interviews primarily among journalists and publicists who were Chicanos or deeply interested in the development of Chicano literature.
In the preface to his interview with Anaya reprinted in Conversations with Rudolfo AnayaIshmael Reed states that, Bless Me Ultima, as of July 1,had sold 80, copies without a review in the major media. Terri Windling described the re-issue as "an important novel which beautifully melds Old World and New World folklore into a contemporary story". However, the policy's responsibility was then handed over to the school board of Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District after Fauss stayed with his ban even after two panel decisions made up of educators within the district and outside the district.
The book may utilize a critical lens of Catholicismthe overall theme of a child coming to terms with the world around him and forming opinions is a valuable story for all children and parents: This message might be the common ground to initiate any discussion around this kind of censorship challenge". Theresa Larkin, a theatre arts professor at Cal State L.
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