Merry UchiyamaBless Me Ultima-responses #1After reading the book, Bless Me Ultima, I realized the integral importance of religion and need for religion and answers to lifes questions. At first, while reading this book, I thought it was just about relationships and the meaning in them but as the plot progressed I realized the book, is more than that, it questions the structures that decide the rules, morals and values that society is composed of. There were three types of religion that I identified in the book that young Anthony chose to pursue.
The first was the paganistic rituals of Ultima. Ultima came into the life of Tony at a very young age and had great influence n the child. Ultima saved the life of Lucas through Tonys strength. Physical pain was brought unto Anthony because of Ultima’s ritual, showing actual validity of the rituals themselves, that they were had tangibility. She brought torment on the Tenorios family (he was the antagonist in the book-the bad guy) saving Lucas though using ritualistic dolls and chants.
This showed her magic was not only good but bad as well. Ultima guided Anthony through all of the mental and social torment during his early years of grade school. So in away Ultima was a guide for Tony through his early years to make sense of all of the storms in his early life, but also was an instrument of religion to base his life on. But in the end of the book Ultima ultimately dies and the strength he once found in her is destroyed. She is buried and the remnants of her medicines and herbs must be burned. So the religion that she commands is dead.
In addition, Tonys mother Maria was a staunch catholic who desperately wanted her youngest son to become a priest to a small community of farmers. Her roots were in farming and living off the land (having a mutually benefiting relationship-being connected to the land). She prayed during times of family toil constantly. Tony has a dream after his brothers beckon him into a whorehouse to sleep with the women at Rosies House. He refuses the offer and affirms that he will preserve his innocence in order to become a priest in the holy catholic faith. His brothers mock him. They try to tell him that in being a man and the son of a vaquero his need for bodily pleasure will become stronger. Here is where I believe Tony accepts the destiny that his mother supplies for him as a man of god, but again his faith in this religion fails. He feels that his catechism will protect him from being corrupted and that god will reveal himself during this ceremonial rite-but nothing happens. He thought that when he partakes in this ceremony all will be revealed to him, but it is not.
Furthermore, the golden carp is also a in a form a religion. He believes the myth of the golden carp and that it is sacred because it saved mankind. Tony and Cico go to a thicket where the carp emerges from under the water. There it is explained of the story of the carp and even more importantly another belief that Tony holds important. The lakes are remnant of when at one times the sea covered the land and the cycle of the sea rising again will be resultant of the sins of the people weighing down the land and causing it to collapse. For a final time, another one of the values he set for himself was destroyed upon the death of Florence in the water before they could inform him about the religion associated in the Carp. A childhood myth is destroyed and all of the religions and beliefs hat Tony has chosen to believe have been destroyed. Cico and Tony both know Florence is gone forever because he had no religion or belief that would save his soul.
In a dream all of this is foreshadowed (chapter 14), god refuses to grant Andrew pardon from eternity in hell, a mob comes after Ultima, the carp is eaten and a new world forms. There is no coincidence that all of this happened in the same dream or that the occurrences in the novel are parallel to the events that actually happen in the book. There are so many events that are foreshadowed by the dreams that Tonys has (he is prophetic!!). But I also believe that the authors intent was to further the theme that all things are transient and you must not depend on the beliefs that others present you but you must follow your beliefs.
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