What is Tony's first reaction when he meets Ultima in "Bless Me, Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tony's first reaction when he meets Ultima is awe. Although he cannot explain it, he immediately feels a spiritual connection to her. Ultima's presence brings a new and otherworldly influence into his life, one he has never dared to contemplate before. 

For as long as he has been alive, Tony has been torn between his parents' conflicting visions for his future. Tony's father is a vaquero who feels most at home riding across the open plains. On the other hand, Tony's mother is the daughter of a farmer. She envisions her son taking on religious duties when he becomes an adult. As the novel progresses, Tony begins to question the basic tenets of his Catholic faith.

Thus, the initial meeting between Tony and Ultima foreshadows Tony's tempestuous and eventful journey towards self-discovery and spiritual wisdom. Tony is awed by Ultima when he first meets her because she seems to exude a mysterious oneness with nature. Before her presence, he trembles with excitement and feels the "song of the mockingbirds and the drone of the grasshoppers mingle with the pulse of the earth."

When she came, the beauty of the llano unfolded before my eyes, and the gurgling waters of the river sang to the hum of the turning earth...the pulse of the living earth pressed its mystery into my living blood...the silent, magic powers she possessed made beauty from the raw, sun-baked llano, the green river valley, and the blue bowl which was the white sun's home...

Basically, Tony's yearning desire to live in harmony with nature finds an answering chord in Ultima. The nature imagery that imbues Tony's initial meeting with Ultima foreshadows Tony's eventual rejection of dogmatic theology for a more open faith.

poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antonio finally meets Ultima at the conclusion of Chapter One of Bless Me, Ultima. The event seems to be particularly momentous, especially since Antonio must lie in bed and listen to his parents, Gabriel and María, talk about the woman in the kitchen below his room the night before her arrival. Antonio is able to gather some information from this chatter: Ultima is a curandera, or healer, who now lives on the plains of the Ilano and who will be coming to live with the Márez family.

When Ultima arrives the next day, she shakes Antonio's hand, and the boy immediately senses a powerful whirlwind move around him. He impulsively refers to her by her name instead of the more formal address, "Grande," which confirms Ultima's belief that she would be close to the boy. Ultima's arrival ultimately marks a huge shift in Antonio's life.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Tony first spends time with Ultima he is overwhelmed in her presence. He knows her before he ever meets her. The curandera was present at his birth, and he has dreamed of her before the actual meeting.

When the priest needs assistance in lifting a curse, he sends for Ultima. Tony is with her as she lifts the curse, adn he is overwhelmed. This will start his journey of discovery and the conflicts that go along with it.

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Bless Me, Ultima

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