What is the purpose of oppositional force in the novel?

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This novel is structured around a series of dualities, including innocence and maturation, white culture vs. native culture, Catholicism vs. paganism, and the contrasting desires of Tony's parents. These forces drive the plot of the novel and shape the character of Antonio into a strong young man.

As a six-year-old boy, Tony is innocent, but this quickly changes when he witnesses the killing of Lupito. This awakes him to the world of men, & the conflict that comes with knowledge and experience. With his new knowledge of the world, Tony hopes that with his first Communion he will gain the knowledge of God; however, he is disappointed: “A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer. There was only silence. . . . The mass was ending, the fleeting mystery was already vanishing.” Disappointed with the Christian God’s silence, Tony looks to the pagan god—the Golden Carp— and to Ultima’s magic to find explanations for the evil he has found in the world.

Because of this, Tony finds that, despite what he has been taught at home and at church, there is the possibility of more than one source of divine knowledge: he is introduced to the existence of the Golden Carp, a pagan god. This forces him to question his Christian beliefs. In addition, he witnesses Ultima as she removes curses that the Catholic priests have been unable to do anything about. He attends an exorcism/healing with her, and learns the ways of natural harmony. With Ultima, he finds the reconciliation of these opposing forces, and that wholeness is necessary to completing his own identity.

 

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Bless Me, Ultima

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