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Bless Me, Ultima

Rudolfo A. Anaya

Diecinueve–Ventiuno (19–21)

Quince–Dieciocho (15–18)

Diecinueve–Ventiuno (19–21), page 2

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Summary: Diecinueve (19)

A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer. There was only silence.

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On Easter Sunday, Antonio takes his first Communion and waits for God to answer the questions that haunt him. However, only silence rings inside his head.

Summary: Veinte (20)

Antonio continues to attend confession and Communion, but the answers still do not come. The boys from town begin to have gang fights with the boys from Los Jaros. Antonio, who lives between the town and Los Jaros, is caught in the middle. On the last day of school, Antonio calls to Vitamin Kid to race him across the bridge. However, the Vitamin Kid is walking with a girl named Ida, and he expresses no interest in racing.

There is a rumor that Tenorio’s sick daughter is near death. Téllez, a rancher from Agua Negra, comes to Ultima to ask help in lifting a curse on his home. Pots and pans fly across the room in his home. Stones rain from the sky. A priest has blessed their house, but the blessing has not been effective. Antonio wonders how an almighty God has again failed to dispel evil. Ultima states that many years ago, Téllez’s grandfather hanged three Comanches for raiding his flocks. The curse has awakened the ghosts to force them to do wrong. Gabriel accepts responsibility for interfering with destiny if Ultima helps his friends.

Gabriel and Antonio accompany Ultima to Agua Negra. Antonio realizes that María teaches him that every man is tied to the earth in his need for nourishment and security, but Ultima and Gabriel teach him that the land serves a more spiritual function: immortality comes from freedom, and freedom is nourished by the land, air, and sea.

When they arrive, Ultima instructs Antonio and Gabriel to build a platform in the yard and to cover it with juniper branches. Ultima asks Gabriel to place three bundles on the platform and set it all on fire. Gabriel informs Antonio that his father once told him that the Comanche burned their dead on platforms like this. When the platform is burned completely, Ultima declares that the curse is lifted. Téllez mentions that a month earlier he challenged Tenorio for speaking badly of Ultima. Soon thereafter, the evil things began to occur in his home.

That night, Antonio dreams that his brothers call for him to give them rest from their restless sea-blood. Antonio replies that he cannot help them. He baits his hook with their livers and begins to fish in the river. They continue to cry out, so he unbaits his hook and throws their livers into the River of the Carp. Finally, they rest.

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