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How do María’s
and Gabriel’s attitudes regarding the process of growing up relate
to Antonio’s future?
María associates growing up with learning
how to sin, but Gabriel and Ultima view growing up as an inevitable
process that is neither good nor bad. María believes that as a boy
becomes a man, he uses his life experience and his knowledge to
make decisions. She also believes that Antonio will be saved only
if he becomes a priest. María even wants to go to Father Byrnes
to discuss Antonio’s future as a priest. Gabriel sharply disagrees,
arguing that no one but Antonio should decide whether he becomes
a priest. Gabriel’s response reveals his staunch belief that destiny
should be determined by one’s own thoughts and actions, not by outsiders
or imposing family members. María, a staunch Catholic, believes
she must guide Antonio’s future carefully because his soul is at
stake. She also has a selfish motive: if she releases control over
him, Antonio will start to make his own decisions and will no longer
look to her for guidance.
to choose between his maternal and paternal heritages. What are
the conflicts within his parents’ heritages?
María’s family is devoutly Catholic, and
their greatest hope is that Antonio will become a priest. The spiritual
character of their relationship to the earth is closely tied to
indigenous religion, while their devotion to Catholicism represents
the extent to which European culture has shaped them. They plant
by the cycles of the moon. Luna, the Spanish word for moon, illustrates
symbolically how deeply this spiritual relationship is rooted in
the family’s identity. Despite the violent clash between Spanish
and indigenous religions, María’s culture contains harmonious elements
On the other hand, Gabriel’s family favors the vaquero,
or cowboy, way of life. His family is driven by the same adventurous,
restless spirit that drove the Spaniards across the ocean to the
New World, as conveyed by their family name, which is derived from
the Spanish word for ocean. Gabriel’s worldview is heavily influenced by
indigenous culture as well. Like the Luna family, he has a strong spiritual
and mystical relationship with the land. The Lunas see the opportunity
to build towns in the vast expanse of the llano. Gabriel’s family
views the llano with reverence and deference; they want its wildness
preserved because for them it represents their heritage and the
struggles and hardship they have endured.
How does seeing
Andrew at Rosie’s house affect Antonio’s opinion of Andrew?
Antonio is forced to relinquish his idealized
image of Andrew when he sees him at Rosie’s house. Originally, when
Ernie teases Antonio about Andrew’s visits to the brothel, Antonio
ignores the comments, refusing to believe that his brother visits
a brothel. However, when Antonio later sees Andrew at the brothel,
he is forced to accept the truth. This confrontation makes real
a dream of Antonio’s in which Andrew promises not to enter the brothel
until Antonio loses his innocence. If Andrew’s entrance into the
brothel signifies that the dream has become a reality, then Antonio
must have also lost his innocence. However, Antonio’s loss of innocence does
not necessarily mean he has sinned. It might suggest instead that
Antonio is no longer in denial about Andrew’s behavior and that
he acknowledges the power of physical desire, which Antonio will
eventually feel as well.
a dream in which the golden carp’s prophecy comes true. How does
his dream demonstrate Antonio’s growing understanding of the religion
of the golden carp?
The golden carp’s apocalyptic prophecy frightens
and saddens Antonio at first because it seems so fatalistic. Catholicism
offers the chance of salvation through communion with God, but Antonio does
not perceive any chance for salvation in Cico’s religion. Instead,
Antonio sees the entire town destroyed by degenerate sinners, just
as the golden carp’s prophecy predicts. However, his dream shows
him that Cico’s religion might also contain a promise of salvation.
The golden carp swallows everything, both good and evil. Afterward,
the world is reborn. The prospect of rebirth promises moral purification
in Cico’s religion. Moral purification simply occurs in a different
way in Cico’s religion than it does in Catholicism.
blesses Antonio on his first day of school, he feels the power of
a whirlwind surround him. How does local folklore regard whirlwinds?
What realization do whirlwinds help Antonio make about good and
Local folklore refers to whirlwinds as dust
devils, an evil phenomenon against the will of God. As a result,
the sign of the cross is supposed to ward off dust devils. Ultima’s
blessing reminds Antonio of the time he let a whirlwind knock him
to the ground, and he wonders if the powers of good and evil have
the same origin. At this point, Antonio understands that power in
itself does not have a moral component. Instead, how people use
their powers determines their moral status.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Bless Me, Ultima!