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Bless Me Ultima By Anaya Rudolfo - Research Paper by Terrancemichael

Bless Me Ultima By Anaya Rudolfo Essay

Below is an essay on "Bless Me Ultima By Anaya Rudolfo" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Bless Me Ultima by Anaya Rudolfo is a novel about a young boy, Antonio, whose conflicted ancestry causes him to question many of the beliefs instilled in him. As Mexicans, his father is a descendant of the Spanish conquistadors and his mother is a descendent of the indigenous people who, instead of continuing to fight a losing battle, decided to compromise by adopting much of the Spanish culture. The coexistence of two cultures is referred to as syncretism. All Antonio’s young life has been dominated by this syncretic conflict, though he is expected to eventually choose between the two sides of his ancestry, either the pastoral life of his mother’s indigenous side posed by farming or the priesthood, or the warring side posed by his father’s ancestors, the Spanish conquistadors (Themes: Theme Analysis, n.d.)

Ultima convinces him that his fate does not lie in his ancestry alone; rather his fate lies in his own conviction irrespective of ancestry; the decisions he makes need not defer to either side of his ancestry (Theme Analysis: Coming of Age, n.d). Even Antonio’s father comes to terms with the indigenous side of Antonio’s ancestry when his warring sons desert him in order to roam free. His father defers to his own well-being irrespective of his ancestry, as he does not want to lose his sons. His brothers too feel that they had made a mistake when choosing one side over the over, but they are who they are based on their past decisions. They feel it is too late for them to change. Antonio, too, begins to learn that at a young age that any decision he makes must be one which arises out of his own convictions. If his father had based his decisions on similar grounds, maybe his sons would not have deserted him. Just as when the indigenous people of Mexico kept their traditions by blending the Spanish into their own, Antonio too can defer to his own brand of culture and beliefs, as Ultima seems to suggest (Anaya, 2008).

His spiritual life also confines.

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Rudolfo Anaya Biography

Biography of Rudolfo Anaya

Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya was born on October 30, 1937 in Pastura, New Mexico, the fifth of seven children. His father, Martin Anaya, was a cowboy who worked on ranches in the surrounding areas, while his mother, Rafaelita, was devoutly Catholic and came from a family of poor farmers. Shortly after his birth, Anaya’s family moved to Santa Rosa, a small town in the Pecos River valley, where he spent most of his childhood. Anaya’s time in the Santa Rosa community was extremely influential for his writing: many of his novels contain images, characters, and myths from the New Mexican culture that he experienced as a child. His family moved to Albuquerque when Anaya was fifteen, and he was forced to adapt to an entirely new culture very different from the close-knit community of his youth.

At the age of sixteen, Anaya was forced into a lengthy convalescence after suffering a severe diving accident that broke two of the vertebrae in his neck. He spent an entire summer in the hospital but eventually recovered and was able to regain his active lifestyle. This near-death experience was quite influential for him and appears in a different form in Bless Me, Ultima when the character of Florence dies in a swimming accident.

Anaya graduated from high school in Albuquerque in 1956 and began to attend Browning Business School with the intention of becoming an accountant. After deciding that the life of an accountant was not for him, Anaya enrolled at the University of New Mexico and took a freshman English course that sparked his enthusiasm for literature. He began to experiment with writing poetry and short stories and eventually graduated with a Bachelors degree in English in 1963.

From 1963 to 1970, Anaya worked as a public school teacher in junior high school. After spending each day teaching, Anaya would return home and spend the evening writing and struggling to find a unique literary voice. According to Anaya, during one of these evenings of writing, he turned around to see a vision of an elderly woman dressed in black: a mystical figure that would become the character of Ultima in his first novel. With the encouragement of his wife, who he married in 1966, and the inspiration of his vision, Anaya began to work on Bless Me, Ultima. The book took several years and several drafts to complete, and, even after its completion, it was rejected repeatedly by East Coast publishers for being too “Latino” in style. Finally, the manuscript was accepted and published by Quinto Sol, a small press in Berkeley. The book was awarded the Premio Quinto Sol Literary prize for the best Chicano novel of the year and quickly became a classic work in Chicano literature.

In 1974, Anaya took a teaching position at the University of New Mexico, one that he held until his retirement in 1993. He published his second novel, Heart of Aztlan, in 1976 and his third novel, Tortuga, in 1979, completing a loosely autobiographical trilogy of New Mexican culture that began with Bless Me, Ultima. After the completion of his trilogy, Anaya began to publish poems, short stories, theater pieces, and children’s stories, including The Silence of the Llano (1982), La Legend of La Llorona (1984), and The Adventures of Juan Chicaspatas (1985). In 1992, he began to work on another series of novels, including Alburquerque (1995), Zia Summer (1995), Rio Grande Fall (1996), and Shaman Winter (1999).

Over the course of his writing career, Anaya has received several prestigious awards, including the Before Columbus Book Award (1980), the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement in Literature (1980), the Award for Achievement in Chicano Literature (1983), the Mexican Medal of Friendship from the Mexican Consulate (1986), the PEN-West Fiction Award (1992), and the National Medal of Arts from President George Bush (2002). He currently lives in Albuquerque with his wife.

Study Guides on Works by Rudolfo Anaya

Bless Me, Ultima is a semi-autobiographical novel based on the New Mexican community of Rudolfo Anaya’s childhood. Anaya used his memory of his town, the Pecos River, Highway 66, the church, the school, and the surrounding villages and ranches as.

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Example Essays: Rudolfo Anaya

1. Rudolfo Anaya

The Wisdom of a Grandfather"A Celebration of GrandfathersaE is a memoir account by Rudolfo Anaya, honoring the lessons he learned from his own grandfather. Anaya writes of the connection that his grandfather has to the earth. Dialogue plays a key role in Anaya"s writing, as he is able to alter our perception with words alone. Indeed, Anaya could entertain readers just through dialogue alone.Equally important to the awe-inspiring dialogue of this work is Anaya"s point of view that is presented in this story. Rudolfo Anaya captures the emotions felt by the reader and is abl.

2. Bless Me Ultima

Decisions From The Heart In Rudolfo Anaya"s novel Bless Me Ultima, the main character, Tony, is torn between his mother"s wish for him to become a priest and his father"s wish for him to be a vaquero. Tony comes to some resolution on these issues through the help of the character Ultima who is a curandera, or "healer.aE Through Ultima"s teachings, we see Anaya"s challenge to traditional teachings of the Christian Church, and we see Anaya suggesting the need for a more holistic or inclusive view of religion. Stylistically, it is also an important example of how Anaya adapts his pr.

3. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Throughout the novel "Bless Me, Ultima," author Rudolfo Anaya, constantly mentions religion, as the main character Antonio battles for the truth in life. Antonio only possesses knowledge on Catholicism and the virtues of Christ until his age of innocence begins to come to an end. When he begins to.

4. Bless Me Ultima

Bless Me UltimaBless Me Ultima, a book by Rudolfo A. Anaya, is about a young boy named Antonio who comes of age through troubling ordeals throughout the book. Anaya uses animals to symbolize intangible attributes such as good and evil. Anaya"s portrayal of these mystical characteristics shapes Tony"s ascent into manhood. Anaya uses animals to help Tony ease through the process of maturing, which Tony is forced to do in a short period.

5. Bless Me, Uiltima

Rudolfo Anaya, the author of Bless Me Ultima, presents important elements such as the use of symbolism, dealing with internal struggles, and the use of characterization. Not only does Anaya present the conflict, but he also shows how Antonio deals with them becoming part of his maturity. Even though Ultima supposedly protects Antonio from all evils of the world, it lies in Antonio"s destiny to be educated of the bad as well as the good.Advanced use of characterization, symbolism, and internal conflict makes Anaya"s story well told as well as didactic.

6. Bless Me Ultima

Bless Me, Ultima I enjoyed reading Rudolfo A Anaya"s Bless Me, Ultima because it show the many different religions and beliefs people have and the conflict they deal with in everyday life.The story starts in the past in the mid 1940"s, during and after the World War II in Guadalupe, New Mexico.The main character is Antonio.

7. Bless Me Ultima

Bless Me Ultima In the story, Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya, the main character, Tony had a good friend named Florence. Tony and Florence were friends untill Florence drowned and died. Tony, and his friend, Florence, have different beliefs about God. Even though Tony believed in many things.

8. Bless Me, Ultima

The book, "Bless me, UltimaaE, by Rudolfo Anaya, has been described as part of the magical realism genre in literature. The owl represents Ultima"s spirit, as Anaya explains: "Again the owl sang; Ultima"s spirit bathed me with its strong resolutionaE(23). Anaya uses the recurrent dream motif to show how Antonio's interpretations of his thoughts and experiences change, as he develops as a character. During the cure, Tony feels his uncle"s pain as the evil is brought out of him by Ultima"s magic powers, as Anaya illustrates: " Dios mio!". As Anaya denotes, "I bles.

9. Nuclear Weapons and Their Effect on the Environment

Thus, this study has elevated awareness to the impact of contamination of animals and its influence on our environment ("Center For Food And Animal HealthaE).In the short story "Devil Deer,aE by Rudolfo Anaya, Cruz comes across a deformed "devil deeraE near a top-secret weapons laboratory at Los Alamos. "The laboratory, which may Kanellis 4represent the nation"s military-industrial complex, is blamed for not only contaminating the environment but also breaking the chain of family tradition, the hunting culture that has been passed from generation to generationaE (Anaya.

10. respectful symbols

In the book Bless Me Ultima, written by Rudolfo Anaya has many symbols and show why the story is important. The symbols of the golden carp, Ultima"s owl and the Virgin of Guadalupe show how Antonio can try and make his decision to either follow the Luna or the Marez. The golden carp represents wisd.

11. Bless Me Ultima

In the novel Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya the character Ultima represents good through her healing, her fight against evil, and her teaching and guidance. Ultima displays her act of goodness when she cures Maria"s youngest brother, Lucus Luna. "and finally Lucus had been cured.aE Ultima cu.

12. Is Ultima a witch or not?

The Salem witch trails proved to be a testament to mankind"s capacity for superstition. Women who differed from the bourgeoisie standards for a typical woman were persecuted and sentenced to death-- eternal outcasts of society. Similarly, in Rudolfo Anaya"s Bless Me, Ultima, Ultima is accused.

13. Bless Me, Ultima: Conflicting Lifestyles

The novel Bless Me, Ultima, is a classic tale based upon Mexican- American culture and folklore. The author, Rudolfo Anaya uses Mexican names and Spanish words to give the reader a true sense of the Latin culture. The story is based around young Antonio who was coming of age at the conclusion of Wor.

14. Bless me ultima

In life there are many people and events that one will encounter that will have such an impact on their life that it will stick to them for as long as they can remember. In Rudolfo Anaya"s Bless Me Ultima, Antonio has encountered many events in his life that taught him a great deal. The events and p.

15. Critical lens

"What matters in literature in the end is. the individual.aE aE" Harold Bloom. My interpretation of this quote is that the main character is the most significant part of a literary piece. I feel that the plot, place, or outcome in a piece of literature is important, but the effect that it has o.

16. La Llorona

As well as in the book Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, it is mentioned that the river takes lives in three different occasions.Probably it is just a mountain lion or the wind moving the branches together at night that make the sound that people think is La Llorona.

17. Bless Me Ultima

The rite of passage that children go through to enter adulthood is a difficult one. Their task is to find themselves and grow into the adult they will become. This is a daunting and difficult journey filled with new experiences, difficult situations, confusion, and the loss of childhood innocence.

18. The Ceremony

The Ceremony by Silko The Truth In Our LivesEverybody goes through times/pressures in life where we are trapped in a phase where all our thoughts are but a blur. We are "confusedaE and uncertain of what to do, what to believe, what to think, etc. Then we suddenly stop and ask ourselv.

Bless Me, Ultima: Biography: Rudolfo A

Bless Me, Ultima: Biography: Rudolfo A. Anaya

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Novelist, short story writer and poet who is often known as the father of Chicano (Mexican-American) literature, Rudolfo Anaya was born on October 30, 1937, in Pastura, New Mexico, United States; the son of Martin (a laborer) and Rafaelita (Mares) Anaya.

Anaya received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of New Mexico in 1963, and a Master of Arts degree in English from the same university in 1968. From 1963 to 1970, Anaya was a public school teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1971 he became director of counseling at the University of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico, a post he held until 1973.

In the meantime, Anaya was developing his craft as a creative writer. His first novel, Bless Me, Ultima (1972), received wide critical praise, and has since become a classic of Hispanic American literature. It won the Premio Quinto Sol, the national Chicano literary award.

Anaya followed this success with two more novels. The first was Heart of Aztlan (1976), about a Chicano family that moves from a rural community to the city. Tortuga (1979), Anaya's third novel, concerns a young boy who must undergo therapy for his paralysis and wear a body cast. Taken together, these three novels make up a trilogy about Mexican-American life in the post-World War II era.

Anaya published another novel, The Legend of La Llorona in 1984. In the 1990s his main creative output consisted of four novels: Albuquerque (1992) in which a young boxer, Abran Gonzalez, embarks on a quest for his real father in Albuquerque. This novel won the PEN Center West Award for Fiction. Anaya followed this with the trilogy about detective Sonny Baca, Zia Summer (1995), Rio Grande Fall (1996), and Shaman Winter (1999).

Anaya has also published collections of short stories, The Silence of the Llano (1982) and My Land Sings: Stories from the Rio Grande (1999). He has edited collections of poetry including Voces: An Anthology of Nuevo Mexicano Writers (1987), as well as writing several nonfiction books, including Lord of the Dawn: The Legend of Quetzacoatl (1987).

Anaya became associate professor of English at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 1974. He was appointed full professor in 1988, a position he still holds today.

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Rudolfo Anaya Essay - Critical Essays

Rudolfo Anaya Essay - Critical Essays

With the 1972 publication of Bless Me, Ultima. Anaya became a popular writer and one of the most important voices in modern Chicano literature. In that novel, he succeeds in portraying the character of the Southwest’s Mexican American people, with their myths, folklore, legends, and dreams. He also transcends these ethnic concerns so that the book appeals to many American readers. Because of the thematic universality of the coming-of-age story, its groundbreaking introduction of the Mexican-American experience, and its timeless allegorical vision of the struggle between good and evil, the novel has been widely read; in the age of canonical diversity, it continues to appear in the curricula of both colleges and high schools as a landmark work of Chicano fiction.

Since the publication of Bless Me, Ultima. Anaya has published works that similarly use ancient myth, the Mexican American heritage, and the conflicts caused by Mexican American attempts to fit into mainstream American society. Though each work presents a different story, his themes remain consistent. His central theme is, in the words of critic Antonio Marquez, that “life is sacred and the love of life is the greatest human achievement.” To find the spiritual fulfillment necessary to see life as sacred requires understanding the harmony of all the forces in the universe. It is the search for this oneness and harmony that lies at the heart of much of Anaya’s work.

Each work in the trilogy illustrates Anaya’s concern with the search for personal spiritual harmony. In Bless Me, Ultima. Antonio finds self-knowledge and insight as a result of his relationship with his spiritual guide, Ultima. She provides him with the stability he needs as he proceeds through life, exploring intellectual and emotional situations. In Heart of Aztlán. a family searches for the answers posed by changes brought about by their move from a rural community to the barrio of Albuquerque. At the novel’s end, the main character, Clemente, finds self-knowledge and begins to help other people who are not so fortunate. The last book in the trilogy, Tortuga. which Anaya patterned after a mythic journey, tells of a sixteen-year-old boy, nicknamed Tortuga (or “The Turtle” because of a body cast he must wear), who finds enlightenment during the desperately difficult time he spends recovering from a near-fatal accident.

To portray these themes, Anaya relies on mythopoetics, the art of mythmaking. He fuses mythic poetic images with images from his own childhood (from both the native traditions but as well from his schooling in Catholicism) and from the New Mexican landscape to connect the past and present so that the result is a completely new myth. Mythopoetics as an important element in understanding human nature is a belief Anaya shares with Carl Jung and other psychologists. In fact, Anaya’s belief that all people share a collective memory of a time when there was more harmony in the universe is very similar to Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious. Both Jung and Anaya have expressed the belief that people can make sense out of the fragmentation of the modern world through the use of certain archetypal symbols and images. Anaya works with many images and symbols: the turtle with its shell, representing alienation and a loss of faith; spiritual guides who lead the way to wisdom; and dreams that illuminate the past and foretell the future.

Dreams that reveal the collective unconscious and the path to self-knowledge appear frequently in Anaya’s work. In Bless Me, Ultima. the boy Antonio gains wisdom from dreams that illustrate a tolerant attitude toward his father and from other dreams that help him to understand the troubled events of youth. In such short stories as “Iliana of the Pleasure Dreams,” the dream symbolizes the harmony necessary for personal and spiritual fulfillment.

To integrate this material into his plots, Anaya frequently uses a favorite device, the epiphany, a moment when all things come together to reveal a truth. In Heart of Aztlán. the boy Clemente, in a moment of truth, can feel the rhythm of an ancient beat echoed in his own heartbeat. He can connect the dreams he has had with the reality around him. Doing this releases power into his life, and he can function because he understands. This synthesis of memory, dreams, and reality works best when the story is told in the first-person voice, as in Bless Me, Ultima. Even though it sometimes appears that the book’s narrator is not mature enough to have such insights, the epiphanies succeed because the book is a flashback told from an adult perspective. This moment of earned insight is a signature of Anaya’s work, despite critical carping. At the end of Anaya’s stories and novels, the characters find enlightenment and personal harmony as the result of their long searches. No alienation, irony, or uncertainty appears.

In the four books that make up the Albuquerque quartet, the defining literary achievement of his later career, Anaya treats contemporary sociopolitical issues that he had previously not addressed directly in his fiction through, improbably enough, the vehicle of the mystery/detective genre. The works are linked by the dramatic evolution of central character Sonny Braca, a contemporary Chicano detective whose ancestor is the flamboyant legendary nineteenth century law-and-order sheriff Elfego Baca. The novels parallels Sonny’s difficult quest to define his identity—he is, he comes to discover, a powerful shaman—with the intricate (and absorbing) process involved in the solution of a crime. In addition to examining nearly four hundred years of cultural and historic evolution in New Mexico, the four novels treat contemporary issues, including Western environmentalism and irresponsible development (particularly the hot-button issue of where to bury nuclear waste), the drug crisis, the dilemma of urban decay, the corruption at the heart of the political process, the sorry state of public education, and the problematic future of cultural diversity. For all their contemporary feel, the works continued to introduce the supernatural: mythic elements, dream sequences, allegorical characters, and a profound spiritualism that draws on a cosmic conception of the universe as a battleground between good and evil.

In Zia Summer. for instance, the gruesome ritualistic murder of Sonny’s cousin—her body is drained of blood and cut with ancient Pueblo Indian symbols—leads Sonny into a radical antinuclear activist underworld bent on blowing up a truck loaded with nuclear waste in order to demonstrate the dangers of its proposed burial. The fanatics are led by a charismatic activist known as Raven who will become Sonny’s antagonist throughout the quartet. He is, befitting Anaya’s cosmic dimension, a brujo. or sorcerer, a powerful entity bent on chaos and destruction and able to assume animal shapes. In Rio Grande Fall. the battle between Sonny and Raven escalates, as does the quartet’s mystical component. Sonny seeks the help of a spiritual guide, a healer who helps him understand his progressively denser visions. In this volume, Sonny must contend with a Latin American cartel of drug smugglers (they kidnap his girlfriend), and to combat them he begins to tap into his own primitive spiritual identity, the spirit of the coyote with its cunning and its instinct for survival. He closes the novel grievously wounded after a pitched confrontation with Raven. However, in the final volume, Shaman Winter. the most dramatically mystical in the series—it takes place, in large part, in Sonny’s dreams—he ultimately recovers his spiritual wholeness and his considerable powers as a shaman.

In the quartet, Anaya continued to foreground his longstanding concerns about cultural identity and the role of the past in both shaping the sense of self and determining where that self ultimately belongs in a contemporary multicultural world. These are not easy questions. In introducing the Chicano experience into mainstream American fiction, Anaya, in a prolific career that has spanned more than four decades, reveals the conflicts, contradictions, and concerns of Mexican American culture with uplifting narratives in which (as in the traditional folktales that he loved as a child) the self withstands its most difficult challenges and the forces of good triumph over evil.

“Iliana of the Pleasure Dreams”

First published: 1989

Type of work: Short story

A spiritual experience reconciles a young woman’s dreams and reality and awakens her to the fullness of her life.

“Iliana of the Pleasure Dreams” is the last story in Tierra: Contemporary Short Fiction of New Mexico (1989), a book edited by Anaya that also contains stories by writers such as Tony Hillerman, Ed Chavez, and Patricia Clark Smith. The story illustrates Anaya’s methods in his short works. In the preface, he tells about the tierra. the land, of New Mexico, which is “an ingredient which dictates the natural pace of the stories in this collection” and “nourishes our creativity.” The story of a beautiful, newly married young woman, Iliana, is set in a rural mountain valley. Anaya combines realistic details of the land with the details of Iliana’s dream to tell an initiation story that ends with people in harmony with the earth and themselves.

One summer night, Iliana awakens from a dream in which she is running across a field of alfalfa toward a beautiful young man. The dream is very real, and she quietly moves toward the window to contemplate its meaning while looking at the night landscape. Anaya describes this scene so that the details of the breeze and the crickets in the landscape mesh with the dream. Iliana thinks of her early life with her strict religious aunts, her timidity with her shy, silent husband, and her uneasiness about the pleasure that was so real in her dream. She recalls her intention to confess her dream to the priest, but on the way to the church, trees seem to overwhelm her like the arms of men. The landscape is the connection between the dream life and the real world.

The next day, Iliana and her husband, Onofre, go to the church to see a miracle, the face of Christ, which reportedly has appeared on the wall. As the young couple drives to the church, Anaya again describes the earth and the landscape. Iliana is excited and surrenders herself to the mood of tense expectation. She smells the damp, rich earth and remembers the horse she used to ride.

Iliana goes with her aunts to pray, remembering the pleasure of her dream as she kneels. Anaya describes the images again. The smells of the mountains, the prayers of the women—all are entangled. As Iliana prays to see the image on the wall, her dream image appears, and she sees not Christ but the man of her dreams. She is overwhelmed, and as she faints, she visualizes the rolling clouds, the red color of the earth, and the man.

When she awakes, it has grown cooler and darker, and Iliana wonders about what she saw, whether it was the devil tempting her or the answer to the dream. She cannot find Onofre right away and runs into a field of fragrant purple alfalfa, almost like her dream. This time, she sees the man in the field; it is her husband. Both confess that they did not see the face of Christ on the wall, but both have realized the meaning of their separate dreams. As they stand together, they speak of the dreams and the need to share them. They understand the meaning of dreams and go home, to new awakenings for each other and to their life connected to the land.

All through the story, the colors, shapes, and textures of the landscape blend into the texture of Iliana’s life. The future relationship of the two young people will harmonize with that landscape, because the land nourishes the human spirit. By synthesizing the details of dream and reality, Anaya successfully communicates this creative energy throughout the story.

The Legend of La Llorona.

(The entire section is 4965 words.)

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The Essays by Rudolfo Anaya

The Essays

"The storyteller's gift is my inheritance," writes Rudolfo Anaya in his essay "Shaman of Words." Although he is best known for Bless Me, Ultima and other novels, his writing also takes the form of nonfiction, and in these 52 essays he draws on both his heritage as a Mexican American and his gift for storytelling. Besides tackling issues such as censorship, racism, education, and sexual politics, Anaya explores the tragedies and triumphs of his own life.Collected here are Anaya's published essays. Despite his wide acclaim as the founder of Chicano literature, no previous volume has attempted to gather Anaya's nonfiction into one edition. A companion to The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories. the collection of Anaya's short stories, The Essays is an essential anthology for followers of Anaya and those interested in Chicano literature.

Pieces such as "Requiem for a Lowrider," "La Llorona, El Kookoóee, and Sexuality," and "An American Chicano in King Arthur's Court" take the reader from the llano of eastern New Mexico, where Anaya grew up, to the barrios of Albuquerque, and from the devastating diving accident that nearly ended his life at sixteen to the career he has made as an author and teacher. The point is not autobiography, although a life story is told, nor is it advocacy, although Anaya argues persuasively for cultural change. Instead, the author provides shrewd commentary on modern America in all its complexity. All the while, he employs the elegant, poetic voice and the interweaving of myth and folklore that inspire his fiction. "Stories reveal our human nature and thus become powerful tools for insight and revelation," writes Anaya. This collection of prose offers abundant new insight and revelation.

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June 2009. USA Hardback

Title: The Essays (Chicana and Chicano Visions of the Americas series)
Author(s): Rudolfo Anaya
ISBN: 0-8061-4023-2 / 978-0-8061-4023-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
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Author(s): Rudolfo Anaya
Publisher: Open Road Media
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The protagonist and the narrator of the novel, Antonio is a bridge figure. He bridges the divide between the various parts of his heritage. He learns to do this with the help of his mentor, Ultima. Part of what enables Antonio to bridge such large rifts in belief systems and ways of life is his open-minded questioning of all he learns and sees. He is a very sensitive and introspective boy, who often seems much older than his years. He is sensitive to the hypocrisies of the church, the faults of its doctrines, and the harshness of its members. Yet he is not a reactive kind a person. Despite his questions, he remains in catechism and goes through all the rites of children his age, namely first confession and first Holy Communion. The fact that he feels no communion with God on the day of his first communion does not make him abandon the church; it just makes him ask more questions and seek other avenues of enlightenment. He is also sensitive to her rhythms and magic of the earth. This makes him open to the lessons of Ultima and the revelations of Cico and Samuel about the living spirit of the earth. Antonio�s non-reactive nature comes in again when he first witnesses the golden carp and recognizes it as a god. He doesn�t immediately change his allegiance to his mother�s religion. He tries to find a way to let them co-exist together.

Among his friends, Antonio�s age seems even more at variance with his years. Unlike his friends who tend to be unthinking and insensitive to each other and to the spiritual nature of life, he always stands back and watches. Yet he also doesn�t judge them even when it is clear they are blaspheming by the standards of the Church. Antonio has a strong commitment to the idea that no one should judge anyone else, including his gods. It is his dissatisfaction with the strict doctrines of the church which so easily and readily condemns people to everlasting torment that makes Antonio search so earnestly for an alternative religion. At first, he tries to find it within what the Church gives him. He favors the Virgin Mary because she is not known as a judge. Her role is to forgive and intervene. Antonio is called upon several times to judge others. He always refuses to do so, except for the time he wishes someone would be able to punish Tenorio. Anaya, therefore, doesn�t make this non-judgmental stand pat or easy for Antonio.

Antonio seems to be especially influenced by women. However, what at first seems like a proto-feminist stance on Anaya�s part turns out to be a nostalgized version of a particular kind of woman, one who does not threaten the status quo of gender relations. Ultima is a independent woman, but she also works in the kitchen and does not interfere in men�s business. Maria is fully a kitchen woman. She prays obsessively and seems remotely in touch with reality around her. By the end of the novel, the ascendance of women in Antonio�s life is cut off. He is sent to learn farming from his Luna uncles. His father heartily approves of his getting away from the influence of his mother. Then, Ultima dies and he is left to take her place as a future curandero.


Ultima is truly the bridge figure in the novel. She is both a practicing Roman Catholic and a practitioner of sympathetic magic. Wit organic metaphors, she helps Antonio to see the unity of all life. His parents have been blind to this unity. His father, the Marez of the sea and his mother, the Luna of the moon, are really part of one cycle of life. Ultima helps Antonio to see that the warring sides of his heritage are really all one. She never encourages him to give up his Catholicism. She always counsels patience in the inevitable growth of Antonio�s fate.

She is also a figure of mystery. For instance, when the men come to lynch her, she passes their test of walking under the image of a cross. However, when they leave, Antonio realizes the cross had fallen. He doesn�t know if it fell before or after she walked under the eve of the door. Her past is also somewhat mysterious. She was trained by a curandero, a flying man. This reference is never explained.

Yet Ultima is also quite down to earth. She believes that the earth is alive and has spirit. She teaches Antonio the ancient practice of asking the plant for its medicine in a chanted prayer before taking it. She is enlivened by the land and becomes young when she is out among it.

Ultima is a loner, but she is also very much a part of her society. She is quite sure that in saving Lucas�s life, she is putting herself in the path of danger since curing him means tampering the with fate of another person. Yet she doesn�t hesitate to help him; her first allegiance is to her community when it needs her. The same happens with Tellez. When she sees his need, she acts immediately, though it is clear that she can see her death is rapidly approaching with every action she takes.


Maria is really more of a stock figure than anything else. She is not given much of a voice. She functions as the warm memory of mother in the kitchen. She clearly favors her son over her daughters, calling him a man of learning when he is only seven years old. She has all her hopes in Antonio and it doesn�t� seem to occur to her to hope anything for her daughters. She is an obsessive prayer and takes great comfort in her sala, a sort of altar to the Virgen de Guadalupe. She is given the credit of knowing good people. She knows Ultima is good, even though she doesn�t understand all that Ultima does or represents and despite his drunkenness, she knows Narciso is good.


Gabriel is a little more developed than Maria. This development only happens, though, at the end of the novel when he speaks to his son. Before that, he is a morose man who has lost his dreams and who blames others for that loss. He nostalgizes his past on the llano and cannot find comfort in his present life. He has compromised what gives him spiritual sustenance--the llano--when he moved to the edge of town. Unlike his wife, however, he changes over the course of the novel. When his three eldest sons make it clear that they will not be part of fulfilling his dream of moving to California and working together, he grieves that loss and then realizes that with the loss of that dream, he can give up the old antagonism he has so long cherished with his wife and her family, the Lunas. He shows himself as a gentle man who believes in the living earth and the duty of people to take care of it. He is a good model for his son when he stands up for those he feels allegiance to despite the danger to himself.

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya: Free BookNotes Summary

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