Magic And Miracle In Bless Me Ultima Essays


In the era of globalization, interaction and interpenetration of cultures there is represented a particular interest of literary works that describe the spiritual quest of the individual in the center of these processes. A semi-biographical novel by Rudolfo Anaya, which is considered the ancestor of Mexican-American literature and the spiritual inspirer of all members of this national minority who feel oppression from the need to search for their identity. In this Bless me Ultima essay I will write about this novel and also a little bit about the author. Hope you will like it!

Rudolfo Anaya

Unfortunately, there is not so much information about the author. It is known that Rudolfo Anaya was born on 30 October 1937, in the city Pastura, New Mexico. He is a writer, a leading representative of the Chicanos’ literature (Mexican-American origin). He grew up in Santa Rosa (New Mexico). In 1954 the family moved to Albuquerque, where Anaya began to study at school management, but soon he left it. He graduated in 1963 from the University of New Mexico and began to study at the University of Albuquerque.


  1. His first book was the novel “Bless me, Ultima” (1972). Anaya has confidently declared himself as a serious, thoughtful writer, set himself the task to capture the social portrait of Chicanos. The book, which has withstood more than a dozen editions, currently remains his most famous novel. It’s lyrical and philosophical story about a boy from the provinces, who was entering into the world full of mystery and relentless struggle and folk healer Ultima who embodies folk tradition helps him to know it.
  2. The second novel is “Heart of Aztlan” (1976). It is about growing generation of Chicanos. This is the story of a typical family that moved from Mexico to the United States in search of work, lived in the poor neighborhoods of one of the towns and became a working family. “Aztlan” is a symbol of ancient Mexican homeland, which turns into the symbol of the consciousness of the modern Chicanos.
  3. Tortuga (1979) was also devoted to the teenager who having been struck with paralysis and was placed on the backside of a children’s hospital. The disease is here a symbol of the baser aspects of human nature that is inherent to people in general: selfishness, indifference, cowardice, hatred. Knowing a human misery and compassion, Tortuga, the hero of the novel, acquired thereby a chance to break free from the hospital-prison.

Bless me, Ultima!

Now we will think about this novel. The narration in the novel “Bless me, Ultima” is on behalf of the teenager, a Mexican-American Antonio (Tony) who lives with his Spanish-speaking Catholic family in Guadalupe, a small town in New Mexico, USA. The duration is the Second World War. Antonio was seven years old when in their house moved Ultima – an old wise woman who was a longtime friend of the family. Bless me Ultima essays notice that she is a healer that can cure the disease, using her knowledge of medicinal herbs and ancient ways of healing, and she is able to curse the witch. With her arrival, the life of a teenager is changed forever: he realized that the old woman would change his destiny. 

The main theme of the novel – is the growing personality of Tony. The boy goes a long way understanding many moral and religious issues over the two years covered by the narrative. The process of cognition of the world occurs not only in the school, where he is studying English for the first time and differs from other children by special diligence, but also the catechism lessons, where he attains the basics of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Also, all the time Antonio learns from Ultima useful lessons that school and the Church don’t teach. With her help, the boy learns the nature and how closely and strongly people are connected with the earth. Ultima tells him that every plant has its own soul and that everything in the Universe is harmoniously connected, even good and bad. The “lessons” of the Ultima taught a little boy a tolerance and understanding – it is two enduring qualities of wisdom.

For lovers of magic and witchcraft

As for me, the title of the book or rather the description of it caught my attention and here are my impressions. The main characters are the boy Antonio and a healer Ultima who met by chance and accidentally started to communicate, but with big and grandiose implications. Is it possible to believe in something supernatural? I guess it is. So boy every day is experiencing turmoil from new wonders that Ultima brings to life. “She sympathizes with the people so deeply, that can heal their souls”. But it is not just healing. The boy is observing a real drama, which hurts him more and more. Around him there is war, chaos, loneliness and Ultima! He feels her by every cell of his body, he understands her pain, when people who have been healed by her, threw unfair words. And there is nothing he can do about it! People are simply afraid of the truth! They are afraid that there are people who are not like them. They just don’t know what to expect from them. I liked the idea of a book about the unity of man with nature. Healer Ultima tried to pass on her knowledge to the boy, telling about the beauty of mountains, rivers and every grass. In addition, Antonio has learned to admire the work of family farmers and realized its importance.

By the end of the novel Tony is no longer the same naive boy that he was at the beginning. He realized that he must develop by himself his system of values, his identity – or rather, with whom of parents to identify himself. Supported by Ultimas, he decided to combine all cultural and religious traditions that he learned. He began to think not as everyone, he had a critical thinking. It is described in the essay about critical thinking.

I can’t relate this book to fantasy and mystery genres, but such a genre as a fairy tale is the most suitable. Summarizing written, I want to mention that I really liked this book. It reads easily and naturally, and sometimes in one breath and with a sinking heart.

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