Bless Me Ultima (Part 1)

I think that this text is one of the most interestingly written out of the texts we’ve read thus far. It seems to be written in a “wandering” manner, meaning, the book is an exploration of Antonio’s thoughts and in a manner that is not afraid to stray away from the topic at hand, instead venturing into a distant memory or thought then to be regrouped to the original topic. I think this strategy really helps to get in the mindset of Antonio and how his brain works, especially as a quizzical young boy.

What I also find interesting is the overwhelming distinction between the vaquero lifestyle that is favoured by Antonio’s father and the Luna family lifestyle that is favoured by his mother. This seems to be a deep-seeded conflict between his parents’ marriage, making Antonio essentially stuck between the two different lifestyles and cultures. It is clear that the two ways of living are quite different; while the vaquero lifestyle manifests in love for the llano and seems to value freedom, mobility and independence, the Luna family lifestyle wants to build towns and fences around the llano, valuing  family, stability and productivity. These concepts are brought up very early on in the novel, and also very early on in Antonio’s life, as he is only six years old. As such, it seems that his future is already hanging between two competing cultures, which each have unique expectations. Early on in the book, we read about Antonio’s dream of his birth. In this dream, he expresses his uneasiness around his future and whether he will become a vaquero or a priest. This reveals his overall anxiety that surrounds the culture conflict. We also see pressure coming from his parents; while his father talks about the llanos, his mother cries “if only he could become a priest…just think the honor it would bring our family to have a priest” to which his father replies “Be sensible!”, clearly demonstrating their conflicting views on the topic. Although Antonio does not seem to vocalize his anxiety of the situation to his parents, or even to us in the text, it comes out in his dreams (which seems to be a way to show Antonio’s interpretations and feelings towards the thoughts and experiences he has, and how that affects him as a character). Also, it is clear that Ultima is a guiding figure in Antonio’s life. So, her role may very well be to guide Antonio throughout this process of coming to terms with his heritages and embracing both of the cultures into his life.

One thought on “Bless Me Ultima (Part 1)

  1. I liked how you described how the book is written in a “wandering” manner. As I was reading the first part of the book I continuously felt as if I was following Antonio’s train of thought. It was as if I was constantly witnessing his questioning and curiosity of life and the people that surround him. I feel that this style of writing and having a child narrate the story gives us a unique perspective as it allows us to view it through the innocent eyes of a character that is eager to understand the world and identities that surround him.

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