This is a coming-of-age novel. The narrator, Antonio, often shapes his story around lessons that he has learned. At the end of the novel we are naturally invited to consider the ways that Antonio has grown and changed as a result of the experiences he shares in his narrative. For these reasons, Anaya's novel may be often seen as an educational novel.
There are many moments of explicit instruction - where Antonio is taught by Ultima and others. Lessons of religion, culture, family, and magic are all part of Antonio's explicit/formal education.
There are other moments of more subtle learning as Antonio attempts to emotionally grapple with and understand the people and events around him.
As a six-year-old boy, Tony is innocent to the ways of the world; however, this quickly changes when he witnesses the killing of Lupito.
While the novel is does not attempt to teach the reader Anotinio's lessons, per se, it does present a strong emphasis on the idea of education and personal growth.