Bless Me, Ultima

by Rudolfo Anaya

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In Bless Me, Ultima, what do Antonio's dreams reveal about his character?

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Antonio’s dreams are a framework for his journey towards finding his identity in Bless Me, Ultima. Antonio is pulled between the beliefs and expectations of his parents. His mother wants him to be a priest, while his father wants him to be a cowboy. Antonio struggles with this conflict through most of the novel until Ultima restores balance in the world and helps him find his own identity.

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Antonio's vivid dreams in Bless Me, Ultima reveal the conflicts he is experiencing in his young yet dramatic life. The first vivid dream recounted in the novel is about the Virgin of Guadalupe and the children who await in limbo. In this dream we see Antonio's subconscious dealing with the conflict that began with his birth. His parents pull him in two distinct directions—his mother towards the earthy farm life and his father towards the free-spirited rancher life. Ultima, his mentor, ultimately helps him resolve this conflict as he learns to reconcile opposing expectations, but the dream sets up this basic conflict and its significance to him early on in the novel. Subsequent dreams reveal his fear for his brothers and for their physical safety as well as their spiritual safety. His dream regarding his brother's trip to the brothel reveals his deep concern with his own loss of innocence. The dream about the Golden Carp, where he sees the creature devour the world, points to his conflict regarding religion and what he should believe. While he has been raised in the Catholic faith, Ultima's influence and that of the local folklore have exposed him to new beliefs. The dreams show the conflicts he feels as he begins to question those beliefs he has always held dear. They also lead him to contemplate new, reconciled, and more mature thoughts.

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When Antonio is young, he dreams about his mother giving birth to him and being visited by members of her family. An old man says in the dream, speaking about Antonio, "This one will be a Luna . . . he will keep our customs and traditions. Perhaps God will bless our family and make the baby a priest." This part of the dream, which is about his mother's family (the Lunas), describes Antonio's desire to be grounded in the land and in tradition, including his interest in Catholicism.

In the second half of the dream, the vaqueros of the llano, or the cowboys of the plain, arrive, representing his father's family, the Marez family. While his mother's family wants him to return to their valley, his father's people say that the baby must grow up to roam about as freely as the conquistadors who were their ancestors. The families are about to draw pistols when the woman who delivers the baby says that only she knows the baby's destiny. Antonio's dreams reveal that he feels divided between his mother's family's rootedness and desire for him to become a farmer, connected to the land, and to become a priest and his father's family's dreams of roaming across the llano. He fears that he won't be able to decide between these two destinies and wonders how he can satisfy both sides of his family and both sides of his personality.

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Antonio often dreams of two things: disasters that involve his family and visions of self-empowerment.

He also dreams of the past - witnessing his own birth - and in these dreams there is an atmosphere of profound and even cosmic misgiving. Something terrible seems to stand behind these dreams. 

The terror, however, can be interpretted simply as a boy's fears of powerlessness in a world of adults, fears of leaving expectations unfulfilled, and a sense that fate and the future are rapidly approaching. 

Through his dreams, Tony sees a combination of the past and the future, and he seems to be working out his understanding of the events in his life.

The dreams clearly show that Antonio's family is very important to him. They also reveal his special ability and insights into the spiritual side of things, showing his sensitivity in this area. Finally, his dreams suggest Antonio's significant insecurity. He feels that his family is threatened by forces from within and from without.

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What do Antonio's dreams reveal about him? How do they change as he matures in Bless Me, Ultima?

In Bless Me, Ultima, Antonio’s dreams provide a framework for his growth in the story. Antonio’s dreams center on religion and identity, two of the critical issues he navigates in the story. Bless Me, Ultima takes place in New Mexico in the late 1940s, and the story revolves around the Hispanic culture present in New Mexico at the time.

Antonio struggles with his self-conception in the novel. He is torn between the worlds and desires of his parents. His mother is a Luna, and his father is a Marez. Each has expectations for how their son will turn out. Antonio’s father and brothers follow the lonely life of a cowboy of the llano, while his mother expects him to follow her family and become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. His idea of personal identity is deeply tied to his conception of religion. His father is represented by the wild llano and, in turn, the pagan Golden Carp deity. His mother is represented by the structure and safety of the Catholic Church and, in turn, the Christian God.

In one of Antonio’s dreams, we see the relationship that these different factors have with one another. After learning about the Golden Carp, Antonio has a dream where the difference between his mother and father is apparent:

Mother, I cried, you are saved! We are all saved! Yes, my Antonio, she smiled, we who were baptized in the water of the moon which was made holy by our Holy Mother the Church are saved. Lies! my father shouted, Antonio was not baptized in the holy water of the moon, but in the salt water of the sea! I turned and saw him standing on the corpse-strewn shore. I felt a searing pain spread through my body. Oh please tell me which is the water that runs through my veins, I moaned; oh please tell me which is the water that washes my burning eyes!

The conflict is laid out in this dream. Antonio is pulled between the beliefs and expectations of his parents, unable to find his own identity in the struggle. However, during that dream, Ultima appears and calls “cease," calming the fighting. She tells Antonio that the moon needs the sea and the sea needs the moon; they work in harmony together. Ultima provides a way for Antonio to navigate his confusion, helping him to find the balance between his parents and their beliefs.

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What do Antonio's dreams reveal about him? How do they change as he matures in Bless Me, Ultima?

Bless Me, Ultima traces a young boy's journey from childhood to adulthood in the midst of a culturally divided world. Rudolfo Anaya uses dreams as a medium to explore Antonio's transformation.

The first dream introduces the conflict between Antonio's parents. His mother is a devout Catholic, who wants to see Antonio as a priest. His father, a free-spirited cowboy, is a nomad at heart. In his first dream, Antonio witnesses a fight between both sides of the family. Each side wants a different future for him. This symbolizes Antonio's desire to live up to family expectations.

In his next dream, Antonio encounters his brothers, who are back home after the war. They discuss the future and what it holds for them. In this dream, Antonio begins to take control of his destiny.

In the third dream, Antonio's brothers try to get him to enter the local brothel. Antonio fears the loss of his innocence. His mother and the priest reveal the truth that one is innocent only as long as one does not know. Understanding brings loss of innocence.

The next dream represents Antonio’s world divided between Catholicism and the religion of the Golden Carp. The two sides converge, and an enormous storm is about to descend, when Ultima calls, “cease." Antonio understands that in the cycle of life, everything holds together as a single entity.

In his last dream, Antonio witnesses bloodshed, destruction, and the death of everything dear to him. Finally, the Golden Carp gives birth to a new order. Antonio attains maturity and realizes that his dreams no longer rule him.

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What do Antonio's dreams reveal about him? How do they change as he matures in Bless Me, Ultima?

Antonio's dreams early in the novel reflect many of his fears as a young boy.  He remembers his birth, he dreams about the Marez and Lunas and the pull of each way of life on him, he dreams about his brothers dragging him into a brothel.  While these are remarkable dreams for a young boy, they also reveal his youth, innocence and his fears.

Later in the story, after his experiences with Ultima become more complicated and the path of his life changes, he begins to dream almost mystically, of the Golden Carp and the differences between the Catholic and the curandera way of life.  His dreams begin to question his Catholic religion.  This loss of innocence is key to understanding the book.  Antonio's dreams change from being about fears to about the bigger questions in life that he has.

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What are Antonio Marez's feelings, dreams, and hopes in the book Bless Me Ultima?

All of these focus around Antonio's central conflict, which is choosing the path to follow in life. He exists between two different worlds: that of the Marezes, & that of the Lunas. As a Marez, he would be free to roam, like the sea, using the land to survive, but always moving. That is the life of the vaquero. Yet as a Luna, he would be a farmer, with a life intimately tied to the cycles of the land.On top of this, his mother wishes him to be a priest, fulfilling a prophecy of the Luna family.

His dream is to unite these separate desires into one. Somehow, he wants to be able to please everyone, while at the same time finding the meaning of God for himself. That is the final piece eluding him in the story: what is the nature of God, & how does He fit into Antonio's life? All of these answers come together under the teachings of Ultima. Through her guidance, Antonio is able to discover the nature of his own spirituality, as well as reconcile the competing influences on his life.

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In the book Bless Me, Ultima what do Antonio's dreams reveal about his fears and his desires?

Antonio often dreams of disaster, but he also dreams of becoming a priest. In his dreams, Antonio has powers that he does not have in real life. He is sought after and seems to either have or be the answer that others are looking for. 

This is true especially of the dreams Antonio has of his three brothers. 

In these dreams Antonio seems to be realizing that his brothers are "lost" and will not return home until they have found something of their own in the world. This also suggests Antonio's increased responsibility to his parents as, without his brothers, Antonio is the last male child left to the family. 

Other dreams imagine disaster, death, and a world in chaos. Antonio is distressed, clearly, by the events that take place regarding Ultima and Tenorio. Tenorio's threats place a stress on Antonio which adds to the series of emotional and spiritual difficulties he is already having regarding his religious and familial identity. 

His dreams serve to express these stresses and reinforce the motif of magic that runs through the text. 

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