In the novel "Bless Me, Ultima," what do Ultima and the Golden Carp have in common?

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Jessica Akcinar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ultima is a medicine woman whose cures contain elements of Catholicism and Native American mysticism. Although Tony and his family see her as a benign healer, some in the community are afraid of Ultima because of her powers and seek to destroy her. She becomes a mentor to Tony, helping him interpret his dreams and negotiate the dangerous terrain of his quest for self knowledge. She also teaches Tony about the powers of the earth, and through these lessons, Tony begins to question traditional religion.

Like Ultima, the Golden Carp is also a benign being with magical powers who serves as an instrument for Tony's curiosity and quest for self-awareness. The carp is also at risk of destruction by those who do not understand it. When he learns of the carp, Tony asks, “If the golden carp was a god, who was the man on the cross? The Virgin? Was my mother praying to the wrong God?” Disappointed with the Christian God’s silence after his first communion, Tony looks to this pagan god and to Ultima’s magic to find explanations for the evil he has found in the world.