Bless Me Ultima Dialectical Journal
1. “The magical time of childhood stood still, and the pulse of the living earth pressed its mystery into my living blood” (1. 1). (P) This thought that Antonio has builds up the possibility that he will later form a deep connection and bond with the earth and nature. 2. “ The war sucks everything dry,” my father said solemnly, “it takes the young boys overseas, and their families move to California where there is work” (3. 2).
(C) Antonio’s father Gabriel shares the belief that is found in this time period that abundance and prosperity were to be found in the lush lands of California, such as are emphasized in John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath. 3. “My father’s dream was to gather his sons around him and move westward to the land of the setting sun, to the vineyards of California. But the war had taken his three sons and it had made him bitter” (14. 3).
Bless Me Ultima Dialectical Journal Essay Example
(Q) While Antonio’s father expects him to become a man of the llano and to be a man of the land and Antonio’s mother expects him to become a scholarly priest, which of these dreams, if either, will become reality, and will this result reflect either matriarchy or patriarchy? 4. “A priest could have saved Lupito. Oh why did my mother dream for me to be a priest! How would I ever wash away the stain of blood from the sweet waters of my river! ” (23. 3).
(R) Antonio’s thoughts reflect the responsibility which he feels to live up to his mother’s expectations, even amidst the struggles of a desensitizing experience as he witnesses Lupito’s death. He displays a high level of maturity and experience as he thinks not just of the horror of the event, but also of the consequences and repercussions of this death. 5. “Today it was all the vivid images of what had happened at the bridge last night. I thought of Chavez, angered by the death of his brother, seeking revenge. I thought of Narciso, standing alone against the dark figures on the bridge.
I thought of my father. I wondered if he had fired down on Lupito” (28. 2). (E) Antonio is very perceptive here and has the ability to judge the degree of right or wrong espoused with others’ actions. He empathizes for each of the men who stood out the night of the double murder, and he worries for the sanctity of his father’s soul, based on whether or not he sought to kill Lupito. 6. “We must have made a strange procession, my mother leading the group with her swift, proud walk, Deborah and Theresa skipping around her, my father muttering and dragging behind, and finally Ultima and myself” (33. 1).
(Q) Is it possible that Ultima is a projection from Antonio’s mind, and not an actual character at all, with the sole purpose of driving the forces of Antonio’s conscience? 7. “Long ago,” she would smile, “long before you were a dream, long before the train came to Las Pasturas, before the Lunas came to their valley, before the great Coronado built his bridge” Then her voice would trail off and my thoughts would be lost in the labyrinth of a time and history I did not know” (40. 2). (E) The author here is emphasizing the power of knowledge and of history in shaping the lifestyles and culture in the present.
Antonio’s mystified reaction to the knowledge of his lands’ history which Ultima shares with him exhibits his appreciation, and by proxy, Rudolfo Anaya’s appreciation for knowledge and the forces of history. 8. “Mother of God make my fourth son a priest. And I saw the virgin draped in the gown of night standing on the bright, horned moon of autumn, and she was in mourning for the fourth son. “Mother of God! ” I screamed in the dark, then I felt Ultima’s hand on my forehead and I could sleep again” (45. 3-5). (C) The expectations of parents can be demanding and stressful.
Antonio’s rearing between parents of different cultures is similar to a child being reared between two parents of different religions. Usually such marriages end in divorce or unhappiness. 9. “The rest of my uncles were very gentle and kind, but they were very quiet. They spoke very little. My mother said their communication was with the earth. She said they spoke to the earth with their hands” (46. 6). (CL) Antonio comes from a line of farmers on his mother’s side of the family who hold a deep and meaningful connection with the land and nature since it was the source of their livelihoods.
Whether or not Antonio will become a man of the land or a priest, his roots will still remain partially planted in nature. 10. “Take faith in God, my child,” my grandfather said and he held her close, “He will return them safely. The war is terrible, the wars have always been terrible. They take the boys away from the fields and orchards where they should be, they give them guns and tell them to kill each other. It is against the will of God” (49. 1). (R) Anaya is commenting here on the religious perspective on war shown through the eyes of Antonio’s Catholic grandfather.
His commentary questions the power of a faith which denounces war, especially when history, which he has shown to appreciate, reveals war’s ability to triumph over those with unsavory intentions. 11. “On the first day of school I awoke with a sick feeling in my stomach. It did not hurt, it just made me feel weak” (51. 1). (C) When I was little I experienced the dread of leaving my mother when I had to leave her side and go to Sunday school in church. There is a feeling of being torn between the comfort of your mother and becoming independent and strong on your own. 12.
“An education will make him a scholar, like-like the old Luna priest. ” “A scholar already, on his first day of school! ” (54. 5-6). (C) This argument between Antonio’s parents, the embodiments of dreams and rebellion, reveals the ignorance of the uneducated in believing that so much opportunity lies behind a simple education. In The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, this naivete is defeated when Douglass gains an education and feels shackled by the knowledge of freedoms which were denied him yet held by others. 13. “We banded together and in our union found strength.
We found a few others who were like us, different in language and custom, and a part of our loneliness was gone” (59. 2). (E) In this brief description of how Antonio found a set of comrades at school, Anaya is commenting on the human nature of congregating in order to obtain stability and security. 14. “We prayed until our faith passed into an exhaustion that numbed us to sleep. The first to fall asleep was Theresa, and my father quietly got up and took her to bed. Then Deborah nodded and toppled. And I, who wanted to endure to please my mother, was next” (61.
1). (Q) As Antonio and his family kneel together in prayer over the return of his brothers, he desires to outlast his siblings so that he can prove his devotion to his mother. Will Antonio continue to prove this devotion by carrying out his mother’s dream of him becoming a priest? 15. “Tell me about the war. ” “It was all right,” Leon shrugged. “Like hell,” Eugene scowled. He pulled away from us and sat by himself. My mother said he was like that, a loner, a man who did not like to show his feelings. We all understood that” (63. 4-6).
(C) The effects of war shown in Eugene and the developments in his personality reflect the harshness of war. After World War II and the Vietnam War in America, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became a common issue held by war veterans and revealed how war can change the minds of those involved. 16. “Miss Maestas sent a note to my mother telling her that I was progressing very well, and my mother was happy that a man of learning was once again to be delivered to the Lunas” (64. 2). (CL) Antonio is showing that he may indeed live up to the expectations set by his mother that he will become a learned man involved in the Catholic clergy.
17. “They were like lost men who went and came and said nothing. I thought that perhaps it was their way of forgetting the war, because they knew the war sickness was in them. Leon had shown the sickness most. Sometimes at night he howled and cried like a wild animal…And I remembered Lupito at the river…” (65. 3-4). (R) This excerpt suggests that mind-altering events create the same psychological changes within one’s mind regardless of the nature of the event. Anaya compares the savage animalistic behavior of a cold-blooded murderer to that of a soldier returned from war.
This comparison suggests that Anaya holds these two forms of man slaughter in similar light. 18. “I mean papa’s dream about moving to California, and mama wanting us to settle along the valley” he said. They looked at each other uneasily. All their lives they had lived with the dreams of their father and mother haunting them, like they haunted me” (67. 10). (Q) How will the boys, the older sons, as well as Antonio, react to these opposing desires of their father and their mother? 19. “Hell, Andy,” Gene said softly, “we can’t build our lives on their dreams.
We’re men, Andy, we’re not boys any longer. We can’t be tied down to old dreams” (68. 1). (CL) Gene’s denouncement of his parents’ expectations of him and his brothers to fulfill their dreams, along with his brothers’ later agreements to forget these expectations, reveals that the older sons of the family will break from these cultural expectations to create and seek out dreams of their own. 20. “They would be lost again. I remembered when they built our house. They were like giants then. Would they always be lost to me? I wanted to cry after them, I bless you” (69. 4-5).
(C) Having an older brother, I can relate to the yearning to be surrounded by your siblings and to have their love and respect, especially from the ones who are older than you. 21. “My brothers laughed and pushed me aside. Do not enter, I cried. It is written on the waters of the river that you shall lose your souls to hell if you enter! ” (70. 5). (P) The resistance which Antonio faces here from his brothers in the face of a decision which must be made while he attempts to encourage them to do right shows that he may face difficulty in becoming a priest as was his mother’s dream, and may not ever become one at all. 22. “You are a Marez!
He shouted and entered. Even priests are men, Leon smiled, and every man is delivered of woman, and must be fulfilled by a woman. And he entered” (70. 6). (R) Anaya is commenting here on the fallacies of Catholic clergymen in having relaxed standards and morals in committing moral sin. Antonio’s older brother suggests to him that he would still be able to fill such a position even if he were to indulge in his carnal desires. 23. “Andrew, I begged to the last figure, do not enter. Andrew laughed. He paused at the gaily lit door and said, I will make a deal with you my little brother, I will wait and not enter until you lose your innocence.
But innocence is forever, I cried” (71. 1-3). (E) As Anaya presents these two contradictory views of innocence, he begs the question to the reader simultaneously of how and when a loss of innocence takes place in those who are not sheltered from the corrupt elements and dealings of men in this world. 24. “You are innocent until you do not know, my mother cried, but already you know too much about the flesh and blood of the Marez men. You are innocent until you understand, the priest of the church said, and you will understand good and evil when the communion is placed in your mouth and God fills your body” (71. 4-5).
(CL) This segment of Antonio’s visionary dream reveals the increasing possibility that Antonio is not destined to become a priest after all. He believes innocence is necessary to fill such a position, yet his mother states that he has already lost innocence in knowing the immoral practices of the men of his family. The priest’s statement contradicts Antonio’s belief that innocence is requisite for the position in saying that he will lose innocence and gain understanding just as soon as he takes his first communion. 25. “I want to help. ” “And if people say you walk in the footsteps of a curandera, will you be ashamed?
” “No, I will be proud, Ultima” (90. 3). (CL) Antonio tells Ultima here that he would not be ashamed of being associated with the curanderas and their unpopular ways. The dream of his mother for Antonio to become a priest is becoming less and less of a reality and the likelihood of him following in Ultima’s footsteps and learning the ways of a curandera is increasing in tandem. 26. “”The golden carp,” I whispered in awe. I could not have been more entranced if I had seen the Virgin, or God Himself… I felt my body trembling as I saw the bright golden form disappear.
I knew I had witnessed a miraculous thing, the appearance of a pagan god… And I thought, the power of God failed where Ultima’s worked; and then a sudden illumination of beauty and understanding flashed through my mind. This is what I had expected God to do at my first holy communion! ” (114. 1). 27. “”Antonio,” she said calmly and placed her hand on my shoulder, “I cannot tell you what to believe. Your father and your mother can tell you, because you are their blood, but I cannot. As you grow into manhood you must find your own truths” (119. 5). 28. “”But it’s not fair to those who don’t sin! ” I countered.
“Tony,” Cico said softly, “all men sin. ” I had no answer to that. My own mother had said that losing your innocence and becoming a man was learning to sin. I felt weak and powerless in the knowledge of the impending doom. ” (118. 6). 29. “Ultima and I continued to search for plants and roots in the hills. I felt more attached to Ultima than to my own mother. Ultima told me the stories and legends of my ancestors. From her I learned the glory and tragedy of the history of my people, and I came to understand how that history stirred in my blood” (123. 3). 30. “”Your evil bird has blinded me! ” he cried.
“For that I curse you! I will see you dead! And you, Narciso, I swear to kill you! ” (135. 2). 31. “We drove past Rosie’s house and I thought about the sins of the town and how the golden carp would punish the sinners. He would drown them in clear, blue water. Then we passed the church and I thought about God’s punishment for sinners. He casts them in the burning pit of hell where they burn for eternity… Drowning or burning, the punishment was all the same. The soul was lost, unsafe, unsure, suffering – why couldn’t there be a god who would never punish his people, a god who would be forgiving all of the time?
Perhaps the Virgin Mary was such a god? ” (137. 1). 32. “And I remembered my dream. Andrew had said that he would not enter the house of the naked women until I had lost my innocence. Had I already lost my innocence? How? I had seen Lupito murdered… I had seen Ultima’s cure… I had seen the men come to hang her… I had seen the awful fight just now… I had seen and reveled in the beauty of the golden carp! ” (164-165. 10,1). 33. “You foolish boy, God roared, don’t you see you are caught in your own trap! You would have a God who forgives all, but when it comes to your personal whims you seek punishment for your vengeance” (173.
9). 34. “You would have my mother rule my heavens, you would send all sinners to her for forgiveness, but you would also have her taint her hands with the blood of vengeance – Vengeance is Mine! He shouted, not even your golden carp would give up that power as a god! ” (173. 10). 35. “I could not understand why Narciso, who did good in trying to help Ultima, had lost his life; and why Tenorio, who was evil and had taken a life, was free and unpunished. It didn’t seem fair. I thought a great deal about God and why he let such things happen” (186. 3). 36.
“”The atomic bomb,” they whispered, “a ball of white heat beyond the imagination, beyond hell – ” And they pointed south, beyond the green valley of El Puerto. “Man was not made to know so much,” the old ladies cried in hushed, hoarse voices. “They compete with God, they disturb the seasons, they seek to know more than God Himself. In the end, that knowledge they seek will destroy us all – “” (190. 2). 37. “There seemed to be so many pitfalls in the questions we asked. I wanted answers to the questions, but would the knowledge of the answers make me share in the original sin of Adam and Eve? “And if we didn’t have any knowledge?
” I asked. “Then we would be like the dumb animals of the fields,” Florence replied. Animals, I thought. Were the fish of the golden carp happier than we were? Was the golden carp a better God? (197. 2). 38. “”For your penance say a rosary to the Virgin,” I said weakly. I didn’t feel good. The weight of the jackets was making me sweat, and the revelation of Horse’s confession and the way the kids were acting was making me sick. I wondered how the priest could shoulder the burden of all the sins he heard. … the weight of the sins will sink the town into the lake of the golden carp…” (210. 9). 39. “I closed my eyes and concentrated.
I had just swallowed Him, He must be in there! For a moment, on the altar railing, I thought I had felt His warmth, but then everything moved so fast. There wasn’t time just to sit and discover Him, like I could do when I sat on the creek bank and watched the golden carp swim in the sun-filtered waters” (221. 1). 40. “God! Why did Lupito die? Why do you allow the evil of the Trementinas? Why did you allow Narciso to be murdered when he was doing good? Why do you punish Florence? Why doesn’t he believe? Will the golden carp rule – ? A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer” (221.
2-4). 41. “”Ah, there is no freedom like the freedom of the llano! ” my father said and breathed in the fresh, clean air. “And there is no beauty like this earth,” Ultima said. They looked at each other and smiled, and I realized that from these two people I had learned to love the magical beauty of the wide, free earth” (228. 3-4). 42. “”You have to choose, Tony,” Cico said, “you have to choose between the god of the church, or the beauty that is here and now –“” (237. 4). 43. “The lonely river was a sad place to be when one is a small boy who has just seen a friend die” (242. 3). 44.
“”Ay,” she tried to smile, “life is filled with sadness when a boy grows to be a man. But as you grow into manhood you must not despair of life, but gather strength to sustain you – can you understand that” (245. 4). 45. “”Ay, every generation, every man is a part of his past. He cannot escape it, but he may reform the old materials, make something new –” “Take the llano and the river valley, the moon and the sea, God and the golden carp – and make something new,” I said to myself. That is what Ultima meant by building strength from life. “Papa,” I asked, “can a new religion be made? “” (247. 5-6).
46. “And that is what Ultima tried to teach me, that the tragic consequences of life can be overcome by the magical strength that resides in the human heart” (249. 2). 47. “The thundering report of the rifle followed the flash of fire. That shot destroyed the quiet, moonlit peace of the hill, and it shattered my childhood into a thousand fragments that long ago stopped falling and are now dusty relics gathered in distant memories” (258. 6). 48. “Would I ever race like a kid again, a wild cabrito rattling the pebbles on the goat path; and would I ever wrestle the crazy Horse and wild Bones again?
And what dream would form to guide my life as a man? ” (257. 4). 49. “”Take them to their room,” I said to my mother. It was the first time I had ever spoken to my mother as a man; she nodded and obeyed” (259. 8). 50. “”Bless me, Ultima –” Her hand touched my forehead and her last words were, “I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live. Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evening when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you –“” (261. 1).