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Archetypal Rites of Passage in Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima
In Bless me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya tells the story of coming of age by connecting ancient symbols of the world, especially ancient ones, with the traditions of the Catholic Church in a New Mexico village at the end of World War II. These symbols intertwine with each other with ancient forces so that together they give depth to a story that is not only Antonio Marez’s story of growing up in the southwest in 1944 but that reaches back to the beginning of time and is well known around the world. to people.
The Sun and the Moon
Although all these characters contribute to the unity of the book, the story is about Antonio, who is seven years old when the story opens, and Ultima, the curandera who was present at Antonio’s birth and has now come to live with his family. in his remaining years. Although Antonio, or Tony, has two older sisters at home, he also has three brothers who have been serving their country overseas during the war and returning home. Tony’s father is Marez, a man whose traditions cling to the earth, the llano, the vast grass, almost a treeless plain where one can ride his horse and enjoy the company of his traveling companions, seeking freedom in this open world. His wife is Luna, a family of farmers who love the rich riverside soil, roots, and the tradition of living according to the cycle of the moon. The sun and the moon have come together, but is it a holy marriage of heaven and earth?
The Influence of Feminism
Tony’s father wants him to follow Marez’s ways, but his mother prays every day that Tony will become a farmer-priest and continue the path set by the Luna family. His mother, Maria Luna, has a feminine element associated with her name, she still holds the power of the cycle of time, and her source of power comes from the Queen of Heaven of the moon, the Virgin de Guadalupe, to whose image she bows every day. The Virgin is the Goddess of the Moon, who weaves and spins the thread of destiny, and it is she to whom Mary asks about her son’s future in the Catholic Church. It is no coincidence that Saint Anthony is the patron saint of the poor, because Maria Luna prays that her son Tony’s future will also be worthy of being a saint, an unpraised priest. The matriarchal influence that surrounds Tony is intensified when Ultima arrives.
Questioning the Matriarchal World
Antonio befriends Ultima the moment he enters their home, calling her by her name rather than politely. Grande, and his mother blames him for this violation. But Ultima recognizes the connection between them and goes with Tony every day to collect plants and herbs to use for healing. He is learning from the woman while she is talking calmly to the plants she has planted, explaining to them why they must rise from the earth. He teaches him that the universe has a spiritual life, an existence. Although Tony lives well in the feminine world of his mother, the Virgin de Guadalupe, and Ultima, he begins to question his mother’s and Ultima’s spiritual beliefs, torn between true faith, and then discovers the spiritual presence of a golden carp from his friend Samuel.
The Golden Carp
It would not be good to catch large fish that are washed downstream by floodwaters. Like a giant fish fighting its way back to land to avoid being trapped, Tony struggles with his soul transformation. Samuel tells Tony the story of an ancient god who loved the people of the world so much that he turned them into carp instead of killing them for their sins. As the story changes to match his Catholicism, he learns that a god who loved people changed himself into a fish, a golden cup, so he could take care of his people. Tony is confused about who is right—God, the Virgin, or the golden carp.
As Tony witnesses Ultima healing his family with her healing magic, he wonders if he is even more powerful than the church and its saints. When Maria’s brother Lucas suddenly falls ill, fearing he has been cursed by one of Tenorio Trementina’s daughters for stumbling upon her witchcraft, the family asks Ultima to use her powers as a curandera to heal him. Medicine and the Catholic Church did not do well. He accepts the nature of Ultima: When anyone tampers with the future, many events begin that they have no control over. They must be willing to accept this fact. He does so and the grandfather pays Ultima $40 in silver-silver to represent the feminine principle of the moon, to heal his son Lucas.
Good Is Stronger Than Evil
Ultima’s requests for shopping and peace are granted, but she also wants Tony’s help because, she says, his first name is Juan—John as in Saint John and John the Baptist—whose name means mercy from God. Tony observes his rituals, bathing his dead uncle, burning incense, drinking herbal medicine, and waiting for a long time. He knows that he is in the midst of evil, but he is not afraid. Ultima calms her fears, “Good is always stronger than evil. A tiny bit of good can fight all the evil forces in the world and it will win.” Tony is determined to do the best he can because God has favored him, an idea that is consistent with his Catholicism.
Before Ultima can force her to heal Lucas’ throat, she creates three dolls from her magic oil and black clay. She dresses them up and lets Lucas breathe them in, then dips three pins in the oil and puts them on the dolls. Tony doesn’t fully understand what Ultima has done until later when Trementina’s two daughters die. He is confused by the woman’s power which seems to be one but greater than God’s.
Narciso, Dionysian Life and Death
Tony’s friend Samuel tells Cico about the golden carp. Samuel goes to herd the sheep with his father, Cico takes Tony to see the arrival of the golden carp, but on the way, he stops at the house of Narciso, a Dionysian man who gets drunk in the spring and plants the night in the garden. moonlight. While he’s away and the two boys sneak into his secret garden, Tony understands what Cico means when he says, “A garden is like Narciso—he’s drunk. Tony is impressed by the fruitfulness of this garden which is grown by the light of the moon, but out of fear or superstition he will not partake of the bounty.
Narciso tries to warn Ultima of Tenorio’s intention to kill her in revenge for the curse he placed on his dying second daughter. Tony, returning home in the snow from a school Christmas rehearsal, secretly follows her. When Tony’s brother Andrew can’t leave Rosie’s haunted house to help, the elderly Narciso must go it alone and Tony continues to follow him. Tenorio shoots Narciso, who is sleeping under a juniper tree. Although Tony is confused about his role in the Catholic Church, he makes the sign of Narciso’s cross and accepts his confession, as the priest his family expects. Overcome by pneumonia, Tony dreams of the presence of all evil in his village as everything in it dies a violent death and is burned while the golden carp swallows everything with a light as bright as a new sun.
Absurdity: Where is God?
Now it’s time for Tony to study the catechism with the other boys at the church in preparation for his first communion, but he still wonders if the golden carp is more powerful than the God of his Catholic Church. They wonder if the Virgin Mary or the golden cup is ruling God’s absence. On Easter Sunday when Tony takes the bread for the first time, he prays for answers to his question: why is there evil and death and torture? They feel empty. He thinks, “The God I was looking for was not there,” and then he told his teacher that growing up is difficult. He tells her, “Ultima says that one’s destiny must unfold itself like a flower.”
Once again Tony is a witness to Ultima’s healing power as he performs rituals to remove a curse from Tony’s father’s friend Tellez. That night Tony was still not received by God. He asks, What is the power of God? Cico tells him to choose between the God of the church and the golden carp. As they watch the majesty of the god-like carp swimming in the river, they think that their friend Florence, who could not eat her first communion because she would not confess her non-existent sins, has won the right to testify about the gold of the carp. the owner. When they go to find him, they find that he has drowned in a swimming accident at the bottom of Blue Lake.
Tony dreams again, and in this dream everything he believes in dies – even Ultima and the golden carp. Disappointed, he is sent to his uncle in Los Puerto to learn agriculture. Before leaving, Ultima says, “Life is filled with sorrow as a boy grows into a man.” Tony asks his father if he can start a new religion. Tony’s father, Gabriel Marez, explains to his son that understanding does not come from God. It comes from living, and it takes a lifetime to understand this. He recognizes Tony’s confusion about religion and healing, in particular, and tells him that Ultima is fearless because “she has compassion for people, so she can touch their lives and heal them.” Tony grows up in the summer because of everything that has happened to him.
Ultima and the Owl: Antonio’s Blessing
But Tenorio’s second daughter dies and in his madness, he tries to kill Tony, who escapes, then goes to Guadalupe to find and kill Ultima. Instead, Tenorio shoots an owl and, as he points the gun at Tony, Pedro, who is Tony’s uncle, kills him with his own gun. Ultima, whose life is linked to the owl’s life, is dying. He whispers to Tony that he is like an owl, “going to a new place, a new time.” Before he died, he asked for his blessing. “His hand touched my forehead and his last words were, ‘I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look at the evening when the wind is blowing. and the owls sing on the mountains. I will be with you.
Tony buries the owl under a juniper tree in the moonlight, the symbol of his mother’s family. He covers the owl with the soil of the llano, the house and symbol of his father. Whether Tony has the maturity to understand all the blessings and evils that accompany his rituals, yet he is deeply influenced by the feminine rituals of the moon, the three events, the river and the fish, the owl and the cypress, and the cyclical changes around him to remember Ultima’s instructions consciously. and wisely as he grows into man: “Take life’s experiences and build strength from them, not weakness.”
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