Activity 21 Expressing Yourself
If I am to become one of Antonio’s closest friends and at the same time be given the chance to give him counsel about his biggest life dilemmas (at least at that point in his life) (also I would assume that I am a friend who is older than him by several years and have had encountered more experiences and problems than him), I would teach Antonio the same things and ideas that Ultima did. I honestly think that the way how Ultima gave Antonio various counsels was the best way to go because firstly, it did not force Antonio to believe in only one central idea about what is right and what is wrong. This is, in fact, a mistake that most parents do whenever they try to teach their children about morality and the concept of right and wrong.
I also think that this would make Antonio’s transition from childhood to being an adolescent easier. It may take longer yes, but it would really be unwise to sacrifice correctness and one’s privilege to choose what to believe (as Ultima has pointed out several times) for the sake of being able to transition easier. I would explain to Antonio that life was not made to be easy and that human were born to undergo challenges; challenges that would make them stronger and more resilient; challenges that would make them more prepared and matured for when they become adults. Life is a continuous struggle and to stop facing and overcoming those struggles would be equivalent to stopping to live or dying.
It is rather understandable for Antonio to be involved in this kind of emotional and moral tapestry but I would explain him as a friend that he has every right to make his own belief about what is right and what is wrong; without forgetting to tell him that backing those beliefs with actions may have a set of either positive or negative consequences; as in the case of murdering a person as a result of thinking that killing people is the right thing to do especially when that person had done something terrible to another person but doing it (i.e. killing) would most likely have legal carryovers. Making these things clear to Antonio would definitely be a good start.
Activity 23 Understanding Content
It can be recalled that Antonio in numerous instances in bless me Ultima experienced having dreams that apparently gave him the ability to have a basic idea of the things that were about to happen in his future or to the people around him; and where this extraordinary skill proved to be one of the things that helped him understand ideas and concepts about goodness, morality, and moral independence. I honestly think that these contents were unnecessary because they do not really provide substance when it comes to the idea of how Antonio managed to have a good understanding of the things (i.e. conflicts) that were going on around him.
It would have made more sense if Anaya instead relied solely on Ultima and used her character as the main tool that helped Antonio make more reasonable realizations about the concepts of goodness, morality, and moral independence. This alternative would have made the storyline more realistic because nobody in real life really gets any meaningful interpretations let alone realizations from dreams. There is a term used in the field of fiction writing and story-telling that is called foreshadowing.
Foreshadowing is used by storytelling and fiction book authors to give the readers an idea often in the form of clues, premonitions, scattered at certain points in the storyline, of what is going to happen at some point later on in the story. I think this Anaya intended to use Antonio’s dreams as the main tool to make use of the concept of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is often done by authors in order to prevent reader disappointment and to keep the readers’ level of interest on what is going to happen in the story high (i.e. to counter the boredom that often comes with reading lengthy fictional stories and novels).
Activity 24 Comprehension Understanding Quotations
Quotation 1 was meant to show to the readers how the idea that Antonio would soon be able to have a better understanding of the things that were going on around him by the time he becomes old enough to have his first communion, the idea that was raised by his mother, when she noticed her son’s growing restlessness of the conflicts happening around him, was wrong and ineffective and that he did not really experience the experience that his mother said he would by the time he reaches that point or age.
Quotation 2 was somehow meant to show to the readers how Antonio used to hold on to the idea that was raised by one of his friends that there was indeed a golden carp, which was described in the story as an entity that guides human whenever they make decisions in life, because of his utter cluelessness on the things that were happening around him. Anaya was apparently showing to the readers how even a single source of hope can make someone at ease and even inspired even in the most challenging and confusing situations.
Ultima was Antonio’s mentor in the story. Among all characters in the story, I can say that Ultima was the person who had the most sensible perception on the concepts of morality, goodness, and moral independence, which I think what the book and its meaning was all about. Quote 2 was meant to show how Ultima knew what was going to happen to Antonio by the time he grows up; how maturity would take place and change his un-solid foundation about the concepts of morality, goodness, and moral independence.
Quote 4 was one of the solid evidences used by Anaya that suggest that there were indeed ideological conflicts between Antonio’s mother and father, something which also contributed to the emotional and moral tapestry that Antonio had to go too, not to mention that he also had to consider adopting the teachings of Ultima in the story, so he was basically influenced by three people.
This quote showed that Antonio’s father was the more logical thinker than his mother. This quote also shows the ideological differences between Antonio’s mother and father.
This quote basically summarizes the concept that Ultima was trying to introduce to Antonio and make him adopt, that life is full of challenges and consequences.
I think this quote pertains to one of the traumatic incidents in Antonio’s life where he witnessed a murder. That incident basically changed a lot of his perceptions about life.
I think that became the title of the book because it was Ultima who taught Antonio the most sensible things and that Antonio was well aware of it.
Activity 25 Symbolism
There were three prominent symbols that Anaya used in bless me Ultima and these were the golden carp, the owl of Ultima, and the virgin of Guadalupe. Symbols, in general, from a literary analysis perspective that is, can be object, character, figure, or even color that may be found in the book that may be interpreted as something that corresponds to abstract ideas and or concepts. The golden carp symbolizes the idea that there is always an alternative belief to most mainstream beliefs (which in the case was Catholicism). It somewhat symbolizes the fact that one must not always force himself to believe the belief that others have and instead learn how to look for alternative ones.
The owl of Ultima represented Ultima herself. Ultima and therefore her own symbolizes the layer of protection that Antonio had since he was a child until the point where he already grew up and the death of that owl basically symbolizes the lack of need for that layer of protection. And lastly, the Virgin of Guadalupe was used to symbolize understanding, forgiveness, and the idea behind the resolution of cultural conflicts; all in all, I think that the use of these symbols were pretty straightforward and effective.
Activity 27 Essay Assignment
In the book bless me Ultima, the main characters were Antonia, a Mexican child, around seven years old, who somehow represented the life of the author who wrote the book, and Ultima, who practically was a faith and spiritual healer who serviced the mainly Roman Catholic family of Antonio. Needless to say, Antonio was the protagonist in the story because the largest parts of the story revolved around him and his life as a seven year old child. The main dilemma that he faced was that he seemed too incapable of understanding the things, which were mostly negative such as conflicts between the members of his family and community, happening around him. He somehow did not have a good grasp of what was wright and what was wrong; whether a person whose act he witnessed must be considered good or bad, based on what he did or how he behaved. Antonio had many friends in the story but among all of his friends, Ultima was the one who taught him the most about life, morality, and at some point ethics.
It is fairly easy to identify the central themes in the story as the following: the importance of morality, goodness, and moral independence. This can be evidenced by the fact that Antonio’s lack of clear understanding and solid foundation of these concepts was the root cause of the conflict in the story; and the fact that Ultima and her guidance were pretty much a perfect fit in plugging those conflicts.
These themes were rather developed perfectly and slowly. First, Anaya starts out by discussing who Antonio is as a child and what type of life he lived with his family; basically how chaotic from a moral, social, and emotional perspective his life was. From there, the conflicts that centered on the three central themes that were identified were developed as evidenced by this quotation “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 well?” ; And Ultima as another main character and her contribution to the process of solving those conflicts were introduced. .
In conclusion, what was shown in bless me Ultima was Antonio’s transition from being a child to an adult when it comes to understanding the things and conflicts which were often moral in nature, going on around him. As mentioned earlier in the discussion, this developed rather slowly and perfectly as the author started to describe who Antonio was and why he was having such dilemmas and how he got enlightened by the mentorship of Ultima.
Anaya, R. Bless Me, Ultima. 1972. Web.