How is the prophecy of the carp in Bless Me, Ultima like the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The legend of the golden carp is like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible because both have to do with obeying god and rejecting sin. The legend of the carp was that the gods forbade the people to eat the carp. During a terrible drought, however, the people disobeyed the rule. One of the gods pleaded for mercy, so rather than destroy the people, the other gods turned them into carp instead of killing them. The god who saved the people felt sorry for them, so he became a carp as well. He is larger than the other carp and golden in color. The legend forbids men to eat carp for this reason. Eating a carp is a sin. In Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and Lot, his nephew, divided up their land because the land could not support both of them, their families, livestock, etc. Lot chose to move to the city with his family, only the city was the sinful Sodom and Gomorrah. God had already commanded Abraham NOT to mingle with the pagan peoples, so Lot was disobeying the command by living right in the middle of a sinful city. God decided to destroy the cities because of the sin, and Lot was warned to escape with his wife. They were told not to look back, just like the people in the carp legend were told not to eat the carp. Lot’s wife looked back, however, so she was turned into a pillar of salt, just like the one god in the carp legend was turned into a carp. Another similarity to Christianity is, though, that the golden carp felt sorry for the people and became one of them. In this way, the carp is a Christ figure, even though the carp legend represents pagan beliefs to Anthony.

The golden carp is a religious symbol in this novel, but it is not connected to Catholicism. The legend associated with it conflicts with the beliefs of Anthony’s Catholic religion. Cico asks Anthony if he thinks the carp is a god, and Anthony cannot reply that it IS a god without going against his Catholic beliefs. The carp would be an example of paganism in the Catholic view, so the legend associated with it illustrates Anthony’s conflict over what he believes. The carp offers Anthony a glimpse of other religious viewpoints and while he rejects it outright at first, he later finds that he can learn from it on his way to figuring out what it is exactly that he does believe.