Evaluation of Rudolfo Anaya's Novel Bless Me, Ultima Author Rudolfo Anaya wrote a wonderful coming of age story in his novel Bless Me, Ultima. In this novel Rudolfo Anaya tells the story of a young boy who is torn between his mother's dreams for him and his father's. When Antonio Marez is a young child, a friend of the family's named, Ultima comes to live with them. Ultima guides Antonio through the hard points in his life. She is a curandera and teaches him to love the world and all God's creatures therein, although some of them may be more evil than others. This novel of maturity and understanding is a work of literary mastery for Rudolfo Anaya.
The experiences that Antonio must face throughout the story, such as; death, diversity, differing opinions, compassion, vitality, and beauty add to the overall value of the novel. Rudolfo Anaya's novel gains truth through his use of situations and circumstances that are universal to all people. One such situation is death. The main character in the story, Antonio Marez is faced with many deaths throughout the novel. The death that Antonio has the hardest time dealing with ironically is the last one he sees. This death is the death of his mentor and friend Ultima.
It is always hard to lose someone you care about, more so if you are only 7 and the person was the only one who truly understood you. Antonio adored Ultima, she was his guide through this unexplored world, Ultima said to take life's experiences and build strength from them, not weakness (W 261). Death a hard experience to deal with at any age, yet all over the world there is always someone who has to try. Diversity is another example of how Anaya's novel gains truth. The world today is a giant melting pot of cultures. Everywhere a person goes they are likely to see someone from a foreign land.
Although people from many different cultures live in the same town, they do not always understand each other. Antonio Marez must deal with diversity at a very young age. When he first entered school he knew no English. This was the first obstacle he had to over come. Then at lunch the other Caucasian children laughed at him because his lunch was different, At noon we opened our lunches to eat When the other children saw my lunch they laughed. They showed me their sandwiches which were made of bread I gathered my lunch and slipped out of the room (W 58).
Antonio feels as though he is an outsider. He knows he is different and does not understand why, I had tried hard to learn and they had laughed at me; I had opened my lunch to eat and again they had laughed at me. My mother she had sent me to this place where I was an outcast (W 59). Antonio is faced with many experiences in one year that many of today's people deal throughout one life time. Anaya's novel Bless Me, Ultima gains truth by having his characters experience real life drama.
Rudolfo Anaya's novel is also literary work of art in his usage of affirmatives. In his novel he makes he characters see like they are worth caring about. He gives them real emotions such as anger, happiness, and wrath. One such case is when Antonio's three older brothers return from the war. They family greets them just as any nonfiction living family would treat their sons who have returned safely to them. The Marez family greets the boys with happy hugs, and joy of their safe return, It was a wild exciting reunion.
My mother called their names over and over and ran from one to the other, holding him and kissing him. My father shook their hands and gave each one the abr azo I had never experienced such happiness as the homecoming of my brothers. (W 62). Another example of Anaya's ability to make his characters lifelike is when Antonio's father begins to talk about California to his oldest sons. Antonio's father has always had a dream of moving the whole family to California and working there with his oldest sons. However when the three oldest sons return from the war, the father must realize that they have suddenly turned into men and no longer wish to follow through on these dreams he has laid before them.
A reader feels compassionate for the father after he learns that his sons want to go off and live a life of their own, We just want to live our own lives We just want to be on our own, move to Santa Fe and work, My father looked at her then bowed his head The restlessness of his blood had destroyed his dream, defeated him. He understood that now. It was very sad to see. (W 72). Anaya does an excellent job in this novel of making his characters believable. At points in the novel, such as he Christmas play and Antonio's first day of school a reader becomes emotionally involved with the characters.
The Christmas play is described so well by the author that a reader may place himself in the midst of the chaos. Due to a snow storm the female students did not come to school on the day that the Christmas play was supposed to take place. Miss Violet told the students that they may still perform the play on the exception that the boys would act out the girl parts. This idea causes the boys to act out and begin to climb up the stage, Bones climbed up a stage rope and perched on a beam near the ceiling. He refused to come down and be in the play, (W 152). A reader feels sympathy for Antonio because he is the only child behaving while his friends run wild.
A reader becomes included in the humor and complete chaos of the whole situation. Another example of where a reader can become emotionally involved with the characters is when Antonio's parents argue over who knows Antonio's destiny. Antonio is born into a family whose backgrounds differ dramatically. Antonio's mother comes from a family that has a very sturdy religious foundation. His father on the other hand comes from a family that roams the llano. His mother wishes that Antonio would become a priest, his father wants him to become a wanderer, These were the people of my father, the vaqueros of the llano.
They were and exuberant, restless people, wandering across the ocean of the plain The new son must fulfill his mother's dream. He must come to El Puerto and rule over the Lunas of the valley (W 6). A reader feels sympathy for the poor young child because he is being torn between his parents dreams for him. This novel gains vitality by giving many examples of how quickly life may be taken away.
Death is a major aspect of life and is also a major part of this novel. As a young boy Antonio is faced with many deaths. Although he is only a young child, Antonio grows and matures with each death. For instance, the first death that Antonio must deal with is the death of Lupito.
Antonio learns that Lupito has shot and killed Chavez's brother. The men of the town go out hunting for Lupito and unbeknown to them Antonio follows. Antonio catches up to the men at the lake where they are confronting Lupito. Ultimately Lupito is fatally shot and Antonio is left to comfort the dying man, He looked up at me and his face was bathed in water flowing, hot blood, but it was also dark and peaceful as it slumped into the sand of the riverbank (W 22).
This is the first death that Antonio must deal with. It shows that even as a young boy Antonio understands what death means. Another example of how well Antonio understands death can be seen in the death of Florence. This is the only death that the victim is remotely close to Antonio's age.
This should be a hard death for Antonio to deal with but at this point he has see so many it really does not faze him. He is more concerned with God in regards to the death. Antonio does not understand why God would punish Florence so much rather than allow him to live the life of a young boy. Anthony repeatedly questions this God throughout the novel, God! Why did Lupito die?
Why do you allow the evil of the Trementinas? Why did you allow Narciso to be murdered when he was doing good? Why do you punish Florence? Why doesn t he believe? (W 221) Vitality of the novel is a very important because it shows that a novel is able to grow and adapt to the changing times. Bless Me, Ultima definitely has vitality in regards to the overall novel.
Rudolfo Anaya shows beauty through his excellent use of imagery, diction, and symmetry. In the paragraph in which Antonio is describing the golden carp the author uses symmetry. He describes the colors of the fish as being, orange, and yellow and red (W 115). Antonio finds beauty in the fish and shares that with the reader through his description, His body was round and smooth in the clear water. We watched in silence at the beauty and grandeur of the great fish. (W 115).
In this paragraph the author has a great use of diction that adds to the overall beauty of the novel. Another example of how Anaya uses diction to let a reader see the overall beauty of the scenic is when Tenor is hunting Narciso in the snow storm. Anaya uses many peaceful images of snow falling and the white wonderland the town has been made into in a way to mask the horror of the fight. Antonio is walking home from school when he sees the two men struggling in the snow, I wanted no one to see me, and the storm swirled its eddies of snow around me and obscured me from the world They were locked together in a death-grip, rocking back and forth in their death dance, (W 168). Anaya has an amazing ability to find beauty in the most unusual places. Anaya's novel Bless Me, Ultima is a work of literary mastery.
Anaya excels in giving his novel truth, vitality, and beauty. This work can live throughout the ages because the ideas within the novel are universal. Anaya gives many examples of the universal idea of death. This a subject that people now and until eternity will have to deal with.
Also his novel has many very beautiful paragraphs, such as when Antonio describes the golden carp. This novel is also very truthful in a sense that it could take place in any era or part of the world. Bless Me, Ultima is a literary work of art that Rudolfo Anaya should be proud of.