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BLESS ME, ULTIMA BY RUDOLFO ANAYA: FREE NOTES
That night they hear the owl sing. It’s the first sign of life on the ranch. Suddenly the top of the platform falls to the ground and the four posts continue to burn. Ultima comes out and praises their work. She tells them it is finished. She tells Gabriel this might be the best burial for her when it is her time to die. Gabriel agrees that this is the best way so the “spirit soars immediately into the wind of the llano, and the ashes blend quickly into the earth.” Tellez comes out looking numb with exhaustion. He asks how he can pay Ultima. She tells him to bring them a lamb the next time he comes to Guadalupe. HE promises to bring a dozen. She adds that he should stay away from Tenorio. Tellez says he was in El Puerto one month ago and went to the saloon for a drink. When Tenorio said something insulting, he had answered him. Only a week later, the bad things started to happen on the ranch.
Gabriel, Ultima, and Antonio leave. When the get home, Antonio has fallen
asleep. His father carries him to his bed. He dreams of his three brothers.
They call out to him and he says he is here by the river. “The brown swirling
waters lapped at my feet, and the monotonous chirping of the grillos (crickets)
as they sang in the tress mixed into a music which I felt in the roots
of my soul.” His brothers call out for his help to give them “rest from
this sea-blood.” He calls back that he has no magic power to help them.
Then in his dream, he took the three livers of his disemboweled brothers
and baited his hook. The brothers call out that he has the power of the
church, the power of the golden carp, and the magic of Ultima. They call
so loudly that Antonio takes their livers from his hook and casts them
into the raging waters of the River of the Carp. “Then they rested, and
As the novel comes to a close, Anaya relies more and more on Ultima’s wisdom as a way of bringing together all the strands of Antonio’s heritage. She tells him that his destiny shouldn’t be fought over but should let itself unfold like a flower. She thus answers the central concern of the novel with an organic metaphor of growth and transformation. Antonio need not worry over his future. He needs only to exist like flower does and he will find his proper direction.
The work Ultima does at Agua Negra ranch is her second interference in the fate of a person. The reader probably remembers that when she interfered in Lucas’s fate, she brought danger on herself. Once again, she interferes with the curse of Tenorio. She even mentions her death in this chapter when she tells Gabriel she would like her body to be cremated in the Indian way instead of being buried. The conclusion of the book seems inevitable.
Anaya keeps the history of New Mexico always in his reader’s mind. The old fight between the Comanches and the Mexicans might have been far in the past, but it has repercussions even in the present time. Ultima’s burial of the Indians indicates that she respects them and their ways. Her heritage comes from both the Mexicans and the Indians. She knows how they were buried and what needs to be done to put them to rest.
This chapter ends on the puzzling image of Antonio’s dream. He performs the
sacrifice of his brother's livers by throwing them into the river of the
carp. The text only says that in this way he is saving them from wandering
aimlessly. Here he acts as a priest of the river.
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. 09 May 2017