The events of Bless me Ultima take place in the middle 1940s during and immediately after WWII. How is the war significant to the story?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The influence of World War II is seen in several ways in the novel since it is set in New Mexico. A research lab was set up in 1943, creating the town of Los Alamos. Then the very first atomic bomb was tested near Alamogordo. In the book, the villagers are against the testings done by the government and said, "They seek to know more than God Himself. In the end, that knowledge they seek will destroy us all."

Another influence of the war was seen with Lupito, the character who shot the sheriff and was hunted down by Antonio's father and the other men. Lupito was described as having the "war sickness", which was most likely post-traumatic stress. At that time, however, people didn't realize how badly men could and would be affected by the war, and many of them came home with both physical and mental problems. They were luckier than those who didn't come home at all, however. 

Antonio's brothers are also away at war when the book begins, and their mother worries and prays constantly. Once they come home, the brothers don't want to settle down in the small towns and villages they'd been raised in, so they left home soon after returning from the war. They had seen too much of the world to be content with life as it had been before the war.