In Bless Me, Ultima, what do Antonio's dreams reveal about his personality, his fears, and his desires?
Antonio's vivid dreams in Bless Me, Ultima reveal the conflicts he is experiencing in his young yet dramatic life. The first vivid dream recounted in the novel is about the Virgin of Guadalupe and the children who await in limbo. In this dream we see Antonio's subconscious dealing with the conflict that began with his birth. His parents pull him in two distinct directions—his mother towards the earthy farm life and his father towards the free-spirited rancher life. Ultima, his mentor, ultimately helps him resolve this conflict as he learns to reconcile opposing expectations, but the dream sets up this basic conflict and its significance to him early on in the novel. Subsequent dreams reveal his fear for his brothers and for their physical safety as well as their spiritual safety. His dream regarding his brother's trip to the brothel reveals his deep concern with his own loss of innocence. The dream about the Golden Carp, where he sees the creature devour the world, points to his conflict regarding religion and what he should believe. While he has been raised in the Catholic faith, Ultima's influence and that of the local folklore have exposed him to new beliefs. The dreams show the conflicts he feels as he begins to question those beliefs he has always held dear. They also lead him to contemplate new, reconciled, and more mature thoughts.
When Antonio is young, he dreams about his mother giving birth to him and being visited by members of her family. An old man says in the dream, speaking about Antonio, "This one will be a Luna . . . he will keep our customs and traditions. Perhaps God will bless our family and make the baby a priest." This part of the dream, which is about his mother's family (the Lunas), describes Antonio's desire to be grounded in the land and in tradition, including his interest in Catholicism.
In the second half of the dream, the vaqueros of the llano, or the cowboys of the plain, arrive, representing his father's family, the Marez family. While his mother's family wants him to return to their valley, his father's people say that the baby must grow up to roam about as freely as the conquistadors who were their ancestors. The families are about to draw pistols when the woman who delivers the baby says that only she knows the baby's destiny. Antonio's dreams reveal that he feels divided between his mother's family's rootedness and desire for him to become a farmer, connected to the land, and to become a priest and his father's family's dreams of roaming across the llano. He fears that he won't be able to decide between these two destinies and wonders how he can satisfy both sides of his family and both sides of his personality.
Antonio often dreams of two things: disasters that involve his family and visions of self-empowerment.
He also dreams of the past - witnessing his own birth - and in these dreams there is an atmosphere of profound and even cosmic misgiving. Something terrible seems to stand behind these dreams.
The terror, however, can be interpretted simply as a boy's fears of powerlessness in a world of adults, fears of leaving expectations unfulfilled, and a sense that fate and the future are rapidly approaching.
Through his dreams, Tony sees a combination of the past and the future, and he seems to be working out his understanding of the events in his life.
The dreams clearly show that Antonio's family is very important to him. They also reveal his special ability and insights into the spiritual side of things, showing his sensitivity in this area. Finally, his dreams suggest Antonio's significant insecurity. He feels that his family is threatened by forces from within and from without.