how does tony in bless me ultima first react to ultima when he meets her

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! In 'Bless Me, Ultima,' Antonio (Tony) is the narrator and the main protagonist of the novel. He starts out by introducing us to his family. His father is a Marez and his mother is a Luna. The Marez are vaqueros (livestock herders on horseback) and the Lunas are farmers. Tony has two sisters, Deborah and Theresa, who are older than he is.

Ultima has always held a special place in Tony's heart because he remembers her from his dreams. Here, the child-like account by the grown narrator shows special sensitivity on the part of the author: these Ultima dream accounts lets us see through the eyes of a young Tony. In his dream, he sees his mother, who has just given birth to him. Ultima is the mid-wife presiding over the birth. She wraps up the afterbirth and the umbilical cord and lays the package at the foot of the Virgin Mary's altar. Tony remembers that his mother's brothers were there, and there was green chili, corn, ripe apples, peaches, green beans and pumpkins surrounding the bed. Soon, Tony's paternal relatives arrive on horseback. Their jubilant gunshots and loud voices congratulate Tony's father on the birth of a boy. However, the celebratory mood turns dark when the arriving vaqueros smash the fruits and vegetables around the bed and replace them with a saddle, horse blankets, bottles of whiskey, a new rope, bridles, chapas, and an old guitar. The two sides quarrel: the Luna farmers claim the baby as one of their own, and the Marez vaqueros are adamant that the baby grows up free from the land. Both sides think they should have the afterbirth and umbilical cord to do with as their traditions demand.

It is Ultima who silences the two loud groups of men. She tells them that she herself will bury the afterbirth and the cord and that she alone will know the baby's destiny. To Tony, Ultima is the ultimate legend, larger than life. When he first meets her, he is awed by her and is initially speechless; he is so nervous that he eventually greets her by her name, instead of respectfully addressing her as 'La Grande' as his mother had implored him to do. Ultima is unfazed by the awkwardness of the young boy. She tells Tony's mother that Tony was the last baby she helped Maria birth and so, there would always be a special bond between the two of them.

Thanks for the question.