Please explain the symbolism of water in Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya.

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Water is an important symbol in the novel, in many ways. First, there is an abundance of natural water elements surrounding Antonio's home. The river, the pond, and the lake all represent different sides of Antonio and different events in his life. The river represents the violence and sin in the town. This is where Tony witnesses Lupito's death, and is first awakened to the evil men can do. He also has to cross the river to go to school, so that first crossing symbolizes the first step into maturity. In contrast, the pond is pure, the home of the golden carp. It symbolizes the grace of God and of man- the goodness of which we're capable. The lake or reservoir holds a kind of hidden danger. There is the threat of flood, which ties into the golden carp story. But there's also the threat of drowning, which we see in Florence's death. Water is also important in Antonio's last name. "Marez" means "sea", expressing the wild, untamed, almost destructive nature of water.

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