Bless Me, Ultima

by Rudolfo Anaya

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What are some quotes from Narciso in "Bless Me, Ultima"?

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"Ay, Grande," Narciso moaned, "I am only thinking of your welfare. One does not talk about the truth to men drunk with whiskey and the smell of a lynching—"

In this quote, Narciso warns Ultima that Tenorio is coming to kill her. For his part, Tenorio blames Ultima for his...

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daughter's death. Accordingly, Tenorio has plied men with whiskey and convinced them that Ultima is a witch, worthy of death. Ultima, however, feels strongly about standing her ground and speaking the truth about who she is.

Narciso is not so sure that the truth will hold sway with men who are drunk and intent upon lynching a woman they are convinced is a witch. Indeed, Tenorio has spread the gossip that Ultima's medicine bag was found under the bed of his dead daughter. In this quote, Narciso's concern for Ultima's safety is demonstrated by his desperate plea to Gabriel to hide Ultima until the evil gossip dissipates.

"I owe Ia Grande my life," Narciso said, "and I owe you many favors, Marez. What are thanks among friends."

In an exchange between Narciso and Gabriel Marez, the latter thanks Narciso for protecting Ultima. For his part, Narciso insists that he owes Ultima (La Grande) his life. We learn why Narciso feels this way later in the story. After Narciso's death, Ultima divulges that Narciso was once a happily married young man. Narciso's happiness had not lasted long, however. His wife succumbed to diphtheria at a young age, and her death devastated him. The couple had no children, so Narciso was bereft of all comfort.

For her part, Ultima did everything in her power to save Narciso's wife, but to no avail. After his wife died, Narciso turned to drink and became the town drunk. However, he remained forever grateful to Ultima for her support and care during his wife's illness. Ultima's loyalty inspires Narciso's life-long devotion to her. In the end, it is this devotion that results in Narciso's death at Tenorio's hands.

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Narciso is not always respected because is has a reputation for being the town drunk, yet he is the voice of reason and moderation when the townsmen pursue the fugitive Lupito. Narciso says,

"Por Dios, hombres! Let us act like men! That is not an animal down there, that is a man. Lupito. You all know Lupito. You know that the war made him sick..."

When the men deride him for being drunk, Narciso replies,

"I am not is you men who are drunk for blood. You have lost your reason..."

Narciso counsels Lupito, saying,

"Amigo! You know I am your friend...those were good times, Lupito, before the war we have this bad business to settle...but we are friends who will help you..."

Tragically, Lupito responds in desperation, shooting to draw the fire of the men, and he is killed (Dos).

Later in the book, Narciso heroically tries to get someone to warn La Grande that Tenorio is coming to kill her. When no one will go, he decides,

"Then I will go. Am I so old that a storm of the llano can frighten me? The llano bred and sustained can bury me".

Narciso is indeed gunned down before he can reach the house of Marez, and his last words as he lays dying are,

"It is good to die on a hill of the llano, beneath the juniper" (Catorce).

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