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BLESS ME, ULTIMA BY RUDOLFO ANAYA: THE GOLDEN CARP ANALYSIS / SYMBOLISM
At that moment the golden carp appears. Antonio is in awe of it and thinks it is truly a god. They are both filled with rapture. Seeing the carp makes Antonio’s questions vanish. “I remained transfixed, caught and caressed by the essential elements of sky and earth and water.” Cico exclaims, “Damn, he’s beautiful.” Antonio wonders whose priest he will be. He thinks the golden carp makes the world peaceful. He tells Cico they should now tell Florence. He knows Florence will accept the golden carp because the golden carp is a god that doesn’t punish, but just brings beauty into life. Cico agrees that Florence is ready. He says Florence will not have to choose between gods. Antonio wonders if one has to choose or if it’s possible to have both. Cico thinks it’s possible since the golden carp accepts all magic that is good. Antonio is happy that they will be telling Florence. He thinks then they might tell Jason and others. It could be “the beginning of adoration of something simple and pure.”
As they make their way back, they see Horse and the others shouting for them. They tell Antonio and Cico that Florence is under the water. He had dived and had never come back up. Antonio sends Abel to get help. Cico is about to dive in when they see Florence’s body rise to the top. His eyes are open and have a white film over them. They pull the body to the surface and get it on shore. They find a red mark on the forehead where he must have hit bottom. They find wire around one of his arms. Antonio crosses himself and prays the Act of Contrition over him, but he knows it’s no good since Florence had never believed. The life guards arrive and begin trying to resuscitate Florence. Antonio looks up and sees two hawks circling overhead as they ride the warm air currents.
Antonio leaves the crowd of people and runs. He goes to the river and wades
across it. He feels sad when he hears the church bells begin to toll.
The characteristics of the golden carp are further explained in this chapter. Cico tells Antonio that the golden carp represents the celebration of the here and now. Cico thinks of the Christina God as a distant god, brought from foreign lands and found in the stars when the people already had plenty of gods in their own back yards. The golden carp is also not a god of punishment. He is only a god of peace. A third element of the golden carp is that it is a god which does not make a division between the sacred and the profane. When Cico sees it, he exclaims, “Damn, he’s beautiful.” The profane word “damn” is not a irreverence in this context as it would be in a church.
Just as Antonio finds the golden carp and resolves in some sense at least
to act as its priest in bringing his friend Florence to it, he finds Florence
has died. Perhaps with this linkage, Anaya is suggesting that the mystery
of death happens no matter what god one believes in.
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. 04 June 2008