How is faith shown in Bless Me, Ultima in Chapters 9-12 and 17-20?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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You might like to consider the following quote from Chapter Nine of this great novel, when Samuel tells Antonio the story behind the golden carp and reveals his own faith in this alternative deity to the Catholic God that Antonio has been brought up knowing. Note how Samuel responds when Antonio asks him if the golden carp is still here:

"Yes," Samuel answered. His voice was strong with faith. It mademe shiver, not because it was cold but beause the roots of everything I had ever believed in seemed shaken If the golden carp was a god, who was the man on the cross?

In addition, Chapter 17 includes reference to Antonio's faith in his God, but also the way in which his faith is tempered by doubts in the form of questions regarding the existence of evil in the world:

I sat on the hard, wooden pew and shivered. God knows everything. Man tries to know and his knowledge will kill us all. I want to know. I want to know the mysteries of God. I want to take God into my body and have Him answer my questions. Why was Narciso killed? Why does evil go unpunished? Why does He allow evil to exist?

Both of these quotes relate to the theme of faith in this novel through exploring faith in alternative deities. What shakes Antonio so much about Samuel's faith is that it is equal to his own faith in Catholicism, and yet is a different religion and belief system. What does Samuel's unshakeable faith mean about the identity of Jesus for Antonio? In the second quote, Antonio expresses faith in God's ultimate knowledge, and yet his faith is characterised by the limits of his own understanding of God. Faith in this incredible novel seems to present us with alternative belief systems and different deities that we are able to turn to as we choose in order to fill in the gaps of any one religion or belief system. Faith is shown to not be something that must be placed in one religion alone.

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