Bless Me, Ultima Themes
by Rudolfo Anaya

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Bless Me, Ultima Themes

(Novels for Students)

Loss of Innocence and Quest for Understanding
A major theme in Bless Me, Ultima is the transition from innocence to experience. As a six-yearold boy, Tony is innocent to the ways of the world; however, this quickly changes when he witnesses the killing of Lupito. Through the course of the novel, Tony undergoes many trials that move him from the state of innocence into the state of knowledge and experience.

With his new knowledge of the world, Tony wishes to comprehend why the evil things he witnesses happen—he yearns for understanding. He hopes that with his first Communion he will gain the knowledge of God; however, he is disappointed: “A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer. There was only silence. . . . The mass was ending, the fleeting mystery was already vanishing.” Disappointed with the Christian God’s silence, Tony looks to the pagan god—the Golden Carp— and to Ultima’s magic to find explanations for the evil he has found in the world.

Search for Identity
Another theme in the novel is Tony’s search for identity among the conflicting expectations of his mother’s and father’s families. Tony’s mother’s family is the Luna family—Luna means “moon.” The Lunas are farmers, and the founder of their family was a priest. Tony’s father’s family is the Marez family, meaning “sea.” The Marez family is made up of vaqueros who appreciate the freedom to roam the land. Because her three older sons have gone the wandering ways of their father’s family, Tony’s mother wishes for Tony to settle down and become a farmer, or better yet a priest.

Tony feels all of his family’s conflicting expectations weighing down upon him, and he wishes to find his own identity. Eventually, he discovers the possibility that he might be able to combine both of them when his father explains:

We lived two different lives, your mother and I. I came from a people who held the wind as brother, because he is free, and the horse as companion, because he is the living, fleeting wind—and your mother, well, she came from men who hold the earth as brother. They are a steady, settled people. We have been at odds all of our lives, the wind and the...

(The entire section is 594 words.)