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Free Study Guide: Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya - Free BookNotes

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BLESS ME, ULTIMA: SYNOPSIS / PLOT ANALYSIS

CHAPTER 5

Summary

Antonio awakens to his name being called. His uncle Pedro has arrived to take them to El Puerto. He dresses quickly and hurries downstairs. His uncle Pedro is his favorite uncle. Pedro embraces him. Antonio likes him the most because he is the easiest to understand of all his uncles. His other uncles are kind, but quiet. María has told him they communicate with the earth and speak to the earth with their hands. They walk through the orchards at night and speak to the growing plants. Pedro's wife had died years before Antonio was born and he has no children. Pedro is also the only of his uncles to whom his father can talk. María hurries Antonio to do his chores.

El Puerto is only ten miles away down the valley, but the trip is the only one the family takes and it means a great deal to María. In El Puerto, she feels like a Luna again. Finally, Pedro calls everyone to come and they drive away. On the way, they pass Rosie's house and Antonio sees a young girl hanging out brightly colored clothing. After many twists and turns of the road, Antonio hears his mother call out that she sees her home village. The road passes before the church of María's baptism and Tenorio's Bar. Antonio's grandfather's house is the largest in the village.


They stop at his house first although they will later go to stay with Juan because it is his turn to have María's family visit his. She warns the children to mind their manners in front of their grandfather. In the house, they see their grandfather, Prudencio, and Antonio recognizes the dignity and wisdom of his age. They all greet him in turn and then Ultima greets him. He asks María about her sons. She tells him they write but that she worries. He tells her to have faith in God. He tells her war is against the will of God. He frowns and Antonio thinks it must be the way God looks when he is angry. She tells her father about Lupito and he tells her the war has reached them too. They have just buried one of the sons of Santos Estevan. He says much evil is loose in the world.

They all go to the kitchen to eat sweet breads and drink coffee.

Antonio's family enjoys staying at El Puerto where people are happy in their work and in helping each other. The harvest was piled around the houses. It gave life to songs the women sang. Green chile was roasted and dried and red chile was tied in ristras (strings). Apples were piled high and their smell permeated the atmosphere. At night the family sits around and eats baked spiced apples and listened to cuentos (stories).

One night Antonio hears Juan referring to him and saying there is hope in him. María answers that she prays he will become a priest. Juan tells her to send Antonio to them after his first communion to stay for a summer and learn their ways so he will not be lost like his other brothers.

Across the river there is a grove of trees. In the grove, the witches dance. The Devil appears in the form of a ball of fire and they dance with it.

The wind blows around the house and sings of the old blood which is Antonio's. He hears the owls song. It sings to the dark night sky spotted with stars, the Virgin's gown. "All was watched over, all was cared for. I slept."

Notes

Antonio arrives in the village of his mother's people, a farming community. The Lunas are a peaceful people. Antonio's grandfather speaks of war as a sin against God because it takes the sons of the people away from the land.

Anaya only hints at something less than peaceful in the valley of El Puerto when he mentions briefly a witch's dance by the river. These are the daughters of the barkeeper, Tenorio. They will play an important part in the plot of the novel. This early glimpse of them is followed by the sound of Ultima's owl singing and Antonio's peace at the sound. Anaya consistently opposes evil and good, suggesting always that good overcomes evil.


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