Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Guadalupe. Small town in eastern New Mexico where Antonio lives. Tony’s family has moved from Las Pasturas (a smaller town where he was born) to Guadalupe, where he will spend these crucial years growing up. The town is dominated by three symbolic structures: the Roman Catholic church where Tony receives his catechism, the school he attends, and the water tower. Many of Tony’s adventures will be on water: It is at the river at night where he watches the death of Lupito, in a pond where he sees the golden carp, in a snowstorm where he witnesses the death of Narciso, and in Blue Lake where he finds his friend Florence drowned.
Tony and his family live on a hillside outside of town, where Tony does traditional chores, feeding the livestock and tending his mother’s garden, and it is from his mother’s family that he learns some of his most lasting lessons: “From my mother I had learned that man is of the earth, that his clay feet are part of the ground that nourishes him, and that it is this inexplicable mixture that gives man his measure of safety and security. Because man plants in the earth he believes in the miracle of birth, and he provides a home for his family, and he builds a church to preserve his faith and the soul that is bound to his flesh, his clay.”
Ultima, a curandera (or healer) and grandmother-figure who was present at Tony’s birth, introduces him to the beauty that surrounds...
(The entire section is 598 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Bruce-Novoa. Portraits of the Chicano Artist as a Young Man: The Making of the “Author” in Three Chicano Novels. Albuquerque, N.Mex.: Pajarito Press, 1977. This important early analysis of Bless Me, Ultima reveals the novel to be “the apprenticeship of a writer who fulfills his training with Ultima by becoming a novelist, the author of his own text.”
Calderón, Héctor. “Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima: A Chicano Romance of the Southwest.” Critica 1, no. 3 (Fall, 1986): 21-47. Argues that the novel is actually a highly crafted romance.
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