Bless Me, Ultima

by Rudolfo Anaya

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How do Antonio's parents differ in Bless Me, Ultima?

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Antonio's mother is a "Luna" and his father is a "Marez". These are family names that also become descriptions of two different backgrounds and ways of life. 

Antonio's mother's family, the Lunas, are farmers that use the moon to guide their calendar of planting, harvest, etc. They are quiet and...

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they stay in one place. The family is deeply Catholic, unlike the Marez who are less devotedly religious.

Antonio's father, the Marez family, have a wild streak. They like to wander. They are herders and horsemen and they take their name from the wild sea. Freedom of movement is important to Antonio's father. 

The differences between his parents become troubling for Antonio because they both want him to follow their own family's traditions and way of life. 

...he finds himself pulled between the legacies of his mother’s family, the Lunas, and his father’s family, the Marez.

However, in the end, after losing his oldest three sons to the wandering ways of the Marez, Antonio's father changes his mind and relents. He says that it is time to settle his differences with Antonio's mother. Antonio will be free to choose a future for himself and his father hopes that it will be a future that keeps him close to home.

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How are Antonio's mother and father different from one another in Bless Me, Ultima?

The central differences between Antonio's parents are outlined in the first chapter, where we are introduced to Antonio and his family. It is clear that his parents stand for two different ways of life that will do much to impact Antonio, in particular in the way that he feels pressurised by both of them to follow their particular background and heritage rather than the heritage of the other. Note what we are told about the father:

My father had been a vaquero all his life, a calling as ancient as the coming of the Spaniard to Nuevo Mejico. Even after the big rancheros and the tejanos came and fenced the beautiful llano, he and those like him continued to work there, I guess because only in that wide expanse of land and sky could they feel the freedom their spirits needed.

Thus the Marez influence with Antonio comes from his father, and is captured in the wide open plains that his father loves to wander in, without feeling attached or tied down anywhere. His mother, by contrast, comes from the Luna family:

My mother was not a woman of the llano, she was the daughter of a farmer.

It is her hope that Antonio will become a priest for the Luna family and will move to the land of her family, living and working there. The conflict between the mother and father finds an interesting arena in the person of Antonio himself, as he feels the different expectations that his parents have of him and how he is pulled between the two different backgrounds and heritages in his life.

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