Bless Me, Ultima is a coming-of-age story in which a young male character faces various challenges (such as culture clashes between home and school) that foster the development of his personal identity. Much of his identity in the first 3/4 of the novel is centered around a relationship he has with a curandera, a medicine woman, who served as midwife to his own birth. Her name is Ultima and the book opens with her arrival and extended stay in the protagonist's home. Other themes and conflicts explored in the novel are familial expectations, machismo and gendered expectations, poverty, allegiance to friends v. family v. authority, magic, navigating one's own personal identity, adolescence, religion and culture, the politics of language and nationality, etc. This novel exposes essential elements of Mexican culture and practices through the the experience of one boy's journey to adulthood.