What are a few quotes about the men of the llano and an explanation of the quotes from Bless Me, Ultima?
The move lowered my father in the esteem of his compadres, the other vaqueros of the llano who clung tenaciously to their way of life and freedom.
These were the people of my father, the vaqueros of the llano. They were an exuberant, restless people, wandering across the ocean of the plain.
He is a Marez, the vaqueros shouted. His forefathers were conquistadores, men as restless as the seas they sailed and as free as the land they conquered. He is his father's blood!
The above three quotes perfectly describe Antonio's paternal heritage. Antonio's father is descended from the vaqueros of the llano. Vaqueros were cowboys who drove cattle for a living during the mid-twentieth century. They were rugged men who braved weather, challenging terrain, and bandits to move cattle between New Mexico (the setting of the story) and Mexico City.
In the story, Gabriel still has the blood of vaqueros in him even though he gives up his llano ways for the sake of his marriage. In a dream vision, Antonio sees his father (Gabriel) and his three brothers speaking about retaining the spirit of the vaqueros in the Marez family. Gabriel maintains that the spirit of the wild horse will forever abide in the Marez blood. Thus, it is Gabriel's restless spirit that compels him to consider moving his family west to California.
From the quotes, we learn that the vaqueros are proud men. They value their freedom and refuse to be tied to the land. The llano men associate their independence with masculine autonomy. This is why Gabriel is treated as a second-class citizen by his former compatriots after his marriage: by giving up his vaquero heritage, Gabriel is in essence rejecting his masculine identity.
In Antonio's dream vision, Antonio encourages his three brothers to follow their father's vision. However, Antonio's brothers tell him that he cannot be part of that vision: after all, Antonio is considered a child of his mother, a Luna by blood and inclination. The Lunas were farmers and cherished values that were antithetical to llano beliefs. In the story, we see how Antonio must reconcile his llano and luna heritages to navigate the challenges of life.
There are many instances in the novel where Tony's parents comment on their different family backgrounds. One example comes toward the end of the novel, as Gabriel is beginning to find that he wants to reconcile the urges of his blood with those of his wife.
Here we find his final distinction and characterization of his family line:
"I came from a people who held the wind as brother, because he is free, and the horse as companion, because he is the living, fleeting wind—and your mother, well, she came from men who hold the earth as brother."
The open spaces that defined the life the cattle-herding of Gabriel's youth and of his family before him do have a power over Gabriel, but as his loses his three eldest son's to the draw of the unknown, Gabriel begins to reconsider his own impulses.
". . . Every generation, every man is a part of his past. He cannot escape it, but he may reform the old materials, make something new."
The llano will always be in his blood, but Gabriel, like his wife, puts family above everything else. In order to keep the family together going forward Gabriel realizes that he will have to give up his dream of travelling again, moving to California, etc. He will have to accept some of his wife's preference for remaining in one place and developing a life there; growing in one place like the crops in the fields of the Lunas.