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

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BLESS ME, ULTIMA BY RUDOLFO ANAYA: FREE STUDY GUIDE

CHAPTER 15

Summary

Antonio remains in bed for days after his fever breaks. The doctor diagnosed pneumonia and prescribed bed rest. He finds out that his father found Narciso's body and went to the sheriff to accuse Tenorio, but to no avail. The people of the town dismissed his death as caused by his alcoholism. Antonio remembers Narciso as a man who had "the magic of growth." Narciso's garden dries up soon after he dies.

Andrew tries to visit Antonio in his sick bed, but Antonio is not feeling like taking care of Andrew's feelings. He knows Andrew feels guilty about not helping Narciso, and Antonio is not interested in relieving him of that guilt. Andrew stops visiting his room after that, only looking in on him from the doorway. Antonio asks Ultima if he betrayed Andrew's secret about Rosie's in his delirium and she says he did not.

After Christmas, Leon and Eugene come home. They arrive in a state police car. They explain that on their way home in the storm, they lost control of the car and it wrecked in an ice bank. To avoid freezing, they had to burn parts of it. They fell asleep in exhaustion huddled against the car and woke to find the car in flames. The state trooper saw the fire and rescued them.

As Antonio begins to feel better, he sits up with Ultima in her room and she tell him stories of the old people of Las Pasturas. He learns about Narciso as a young husband whose wife was killed by the diphtheria epidemic. Ultima had struggled to save her and since then Narciso had been loyal to her. She tells Antonio that the old people always helped each other and stuck together through good and bad.

Antonio's mother prepares him for his first communion. She tells him he will be a leader of the people as a priest. She tells him that he will "hold God in his mouth, in your body, in your soul--you will speak to Him and He will answer--." Antonio asks, "Then I will have knowledge of God?" and she answers in the affirmative. María also has Antonio read her the catechism in English, even though she does know understand all the words. Antonio knows that many of the people do not believe in learning English, "the new language," but his mother wants him to succeed as a priest and knows English is essential.


Gabriel becomes depressed at his sons' talk of leaving. He drinks all day and comes home in a morose mood. He talks nostalgically about how they used to work together in building the house. He cries as he tells the story. He tells them that the line of the windmill has come loose an he will have to go outside in the ice storm to fix it. The sons let him do this dangerous job alone. The next day they leave while he is still at work. Andrew goes with them.

Notes

Antonio learns in this chapter that his older brothers will forever be vague memories to him and distant strangers on rare visits. The sons do the worst thing possible to their father. They let him risk his life in an ice storm and do not offer to help him. They have abdicated all duties as sons of their father. He knows what their inaction means and so does everyone else in the household.


CHAPTER 16

Summary

After Christmas holiday, Antonio returns to school and looks forward to his catechism. He feels as if he has been changed by Narciso's death. He sees Cico who tells him they will go to see the golden carp in the summer and tell it about Narciso’s death so as to get instructions on what to do. He does not see Jasón. He keeps to himself. He tries to find an answer to the injustice of Narciso's death and Tenorio's continued life. He tries to reconcile this injustice with his notions of God and punishment. He wonders if God is at all interested in justice. He prays but gets no answer. He prays then to the Virgin and she listens. He looks hard at the altar candles burning at the Virgin's feet and he closes his eyes and imagines she turns into God.

He remembers his mother telling him the e story of the Mexican boy, Diego, who had first seen la Virgen de Guadalupe. He had appeared to him, spoken to him and given him a sign. She made roses grow on a barren rocky hill. Antonio dreams so much of the Virgin, that he always expects to meet her around every corner.

On day he meets Tenorio standing under the juniper tree where he had murdered Narciso. He curses Antonio, calling him damned and unlucky and wretched. Antonio shouts back, "Jesús, María y José!" He crosses his thumb over his first finer and holds it up before Tenorio. Tenorio tells him his daughter is dying and blames it on Ultima. He vows to destroy Ultima. Antonio[s is very afraid and wants to run, but he remembers how his father stood up to Tenorio and he also remembers how Ultima did, so he stands firm. He answers that he will not let Tenorio hurt Ultima. Tenorio tells Antonio that his curse is that he knows too much and then he turns and disappears into the dust.

Antonio tells Ultima. She is concerned that Tenorio cursed Antonio. She questions him to make sure Tenorio did not touch him. Ultima assures Antonio that Tenorio is not a threat because he has no "manly strength." She tells him Tenorio was at the site of his murder because of a bad conscience and that there can be no forgiveness for him.

Antonio is comforted by her assurances. He often wakes up at night and finds her awake working with her herbs.

Notes

Anaya sets up the terms of the end of the novel here. Antonio is part of it, a sort of mediator between Tenorio and Ultima. Ultima's cure of Lucas meant turning the curse back on the Trementina sisters. Now the second one is dying and Tenorio knows Ultima is responsible. He cannot accept the fact that his daughters started the chain of events, he can only blame Ultima. Ultima seems almost superhuman in this chapter. Antonio wakes often in the middle of the night and finds her awake. She seems never to sleep.


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