When he sees the lights of the bridge, he feels relieved. They signal the division between town and llano. He is sure that Narciso will be able to stop Tenorio's intrusion upon the llano. He remembers the intrusions of the townspeople on the llano thus far: the murder of Lupito which desecrated the river and the lynch party. Gabriel has tried to keep the land holy and pure, but Antonio wonders if it is possible to do so. He wonders if the llano is like he is: as he has grown, his innocence has left him. He wonders if the land changes likewise.

Antonio is lightheaded with fatigue. Narciso is far ahead of him. He hears a pistol shot. He runs and as he comes beneath the shelter of a juniper tree, he sees two figures fighting. Tenorio had ambushed Narciso. Antonio knows they will fight to the death. Narciso has been shot. A second shot is fired. Tenorio stands up away from the dead Narciso. He curses Narciso's soul and spits on his body. He aims his gun at Narciso's head and Antonio screams. Tenorio turns around and sees Antonio. He aims the pistol at Antonio and tries to shoot, but there is no shot. He runs.

Antonio runs to Narciso and kneels beside him. It is peaceful under the juniper tree. The branches offer protection like a confessional. He asks Narciso if he is dead. Narciso smiles, but his eyes are glazed. He makes a sign of the cross and asks Antonio for confession. Antonio says he is not a priest. Narciso's body jerks and stiffens. He calls out Ultima's name. Antonio tells him there is no time to get her. Narciso asks Antonio to pray for him since he is "pure of heart." Antonio notices the blood on Narciso's chest wound has stopped flowing. He listens to Narciso's confession, crying all the while, and then he prays the Act of Contrition. Narciso's last words are "It is good to die on a hill of the llano, beneath the juniper." Antonio finally stops crying and runs home.

In the kitchen, his mother embraces him. Ultima notices he has blood on him. He tells them Narciso is dead. Ultima carries him out of the room. He tells Ultima that Narciso was coming to warn her about Tenorio. He tells her he gave confession. He shouts the scene of the murder over and over, thinking he will purge the fever by doing so. He loses track of time. At one point, he sees the doctor from town. At another point, he sees Andrew. Ultima is always near him. "It was a long night, during which the nightmares, like a herd of wild horses, trampled through my dreams. Strange scenes whirled in my ocean of pesadilla (nightmare), and each one seemed to drown me with its awful power."

Antonio dreams he sees Andrew and the woman at Rosie's holding each other and dancing while Narciso knocks on the door. She is naked and her long hair envelops Andrew and keeps him from getting to the door. He calls out Andrew's name. He asks God to forgive him. God answers, "I am not a God of forgiveness!" Antonio begs God to hear him and God says he will not hear anyone who has not communed with Him. He adds that Andrew has sinned with whores and will go to hell for eternity.

Antonio objects that he will be God's priest. God says He has no priests who have golden idols before Him. Antonio sees Narciso's face among flames. He calls out to God to forgive Narciso. God replies that He will do so only if Antonio also asks Him to forgive Tenorio. Antonio objects that Tenorio has done evil and God laughs. Then he hears the soft voice of the Virgin saying she will forgive Tenorio. Antonio objects that she should intercede for Narciso instead. She smiles and says she forgives all. He wants her to punish Tenorio. He hears the laughter again. God calls him a fool who is caught in his own trap. He adds that Antonio wants a god who will forgive all, but then when his personal whims dictate it, he wants punishment for his vengeance. Antonio asks for forgiveness for his sins.

The flames part and he sees the blood of Narciso flow into a river and mix with the blood of Lupito. The people of the town are drawn by the sweet smell of the blood which they say is a cure-all. The mob chants, "taste but one drop of the blood of la curandera and the key to heaven is assured." They call for Ultima's blood. They form a caravan across the bridge and walk toward the hill. At the head of the caravan three men are led by three women who drive them with whips. They call him like his brothers always did. They ask for his help. They tell him they followed neither God nor the pagan god and did not believe in the magic of Ultima. They ask for his blessing and forgiveness. He is helpless. He tells them he is not a priest and that he too has sinned in doubting God. They persist and so he holds his bloodied hands out to touch them.

He feels the cloven hoofs of animals and when he looks up he sees the three Trementina sisters. They say the spell that cured Lucas went through his body. They add the his name lent strength to the curse that killed one of them. They vow revenge on him. They cut his hair with rusty scissors and mix it with bats' blood. They pour the mixture along with the insides of a toad into a bowl. The toad is the animal that opposes Antonio in life. Its touch makes him sick. They drink the mixture.

Antonio sees his body withering away. His mother begins her mourning wail. Ultima sits by powerless. A priest rubs holy oil on him and prays. "A long dark night came upon me in which I sought the face of God, but I could not find Him." The Virgin and Saint Anthony will not look at him. He has died without the Eucharist and is cursed. He stands in front of the doors of Purgatory and his bleached bones are laid to rest.

The Trementina sisters lead the caravan onto the hill of the Maréz house. The kids of the gang try run but are captured an put in chains. The girls--Rita, Agnes, Lydia, Ida, and June--are also caught and put in chains. The young faces get wrinkled and grow old. The people burn the house. His father, mother, and sisters die in the flames. The Trementinas kill the owl and make Ultima powerless. They behead her and drink her blood. They tie her to a post and drive stake through her heart and then burn her. They catch the carp and cook it in the fires of Ultima's ashes and eat it.

There is thunder and an earthquake. The church building crumbles and the school collapses and the whole town disappears. The people are afraid. The Trementinas tell them not to be afraid because they are on the holy hill land and are saved. The people laugh and keep eating the carp. The wind blows and the sun turns red. The people's skin begins to rot and fall off. The rotting smell fills the air.

In the end, no one is left. The goats "look in innocence at the death camp of the people." The farmers of El Puerto come and stir the ashes. They gather them and bury them in the holy ground of their fields in El Puerto. Evening comes and the stars come out. The golden carp appears in the lake. He has seen everything that has happened and he has decided that everyone should survive, but in a new form. He opens his mouth and swallows everything there is, both good and evil. He swims into the blue velvet of the night. The moon guides him. He becomes the new sun in the heavens. "A new sun to shine its good light upon a new earth."

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".