Antonio and Ultima in “Bless Me, Ultima” by Anaya

Pages: 3
Words: 852

The story of Antonio, a six-year-old who has grown up in a rather complicated environment, is the same as that of the Giver by Lois Lowry. Antonio struggles with himself and his cultural identity until he meets Ultima, an individual who becomes his mentor. With the deaths of those around him and trying to meet his parents’ expectations, Antonio confronts the idea of good despite understanding Catholicism. Contrary, Jonas struggles with growing up while discovering the truth about his world. Often, children grow up protected from the cruelties of the real world; eventually, they learn that the world is multi-faceted and there is unfairness and injustice we all must face.

One similarity that stands out between Antonio and Ultima is that Ultima is grounded in both catholic and indigenous traditions. Ultima acknowledges that life has several perspectives from which it can be viewed, all of which are equally valid. Despite the Catholic Church’s failure to acknowledge and respect Ultima’s mystical powers, she respects the entity and regularly attends mass to learn from the wisdom of the Catholic faith (Anaya, 2022). Ultima appreciates several perspectives and faiths, which bolsters her conviction that every individual must make independent moral decisions.

Through her faith perspective, she believes people should not blindly follow or trust any single authority even when Antonio is still a small boy, Ultima respects and understands Antonio’s outlook and faith. The moment that Ultima acknowledges this, her respecting Antonio comes upon trying to instill her beliefs in him on open-mindedness, independence, and tolerance. Based on the respect and how Ultima treats Antonio, she does not force him to help her with Lucas’s exorcism. During the exorcism, Ultima explains to Antonio what is at stake and allows him to decide whether to participate in the practice (Anaya, 2022). Towards the end of Ultima’s life, she treats Antonio as her spiritual heir and asks him to bury the owl, which symbolizes Ultima’s life force throughout the book. Even with Ultima’s death, her influence and spirit guide Antonio for the rest of his life.

Based on their relationship and how Ultima mentors Antonio, the two live through a moral system that defines the most significant bond they share throughout the book. As a mentor, Ultima helps Antonio cope with his uncertainties and anxieties. In the first chapter, Ultima claims a spiritual connection to Antonio, which manifests when he dreams of her burying his afterbirth to keep his destiny secret from the arguments his parents had (Anaya, 2022). Upon presenting herself as the keeper of Antonio’s destiny, Ultima establishes a critical role in his psyche. Using a unique influence position where through benevolence, Ultima prefers to teach Antonio how to think for himself instead of following her sense of morality.

That is another similarity between Antonio and Ultima. Ultima has developed her character by learning to perceive the world through different perspectives, resulting in different perspectives and faiths, which bolsters her conviction that every individual must make independent moral decisions (Anaya, 2022). Similarly, Antonio’s perspective of the world is influenced by several aspects of his life. While he was born Catholic, his interaction with Cico exposed him to different perspectives on life. Antonio has known all his life about faith in God; on the other hand, he is questioned about choosing beauty now.

Some of the themes in the book are family expectations, myth, dreams of the family vs. dreams of the child, and loss of innocence. Family expectations, Antonio is raised in a close-knit family, and his relationship with his brother, uncle, father, and mother places great pressure on the kind of life he is supposed to live. The struggle faced by his family’s expectations eases with the arrival of Ultima, who brings a freeing outside perspective to Antonio’s future (Anaya, 2022). In the theme of myth, Antonio encounters several myths that are bound to underlie the cultural presence. When coupled with the Catholic myth, the confusion experienced leads Antonio to develop his understanding of faith, a combination of Christianity and the Golden Carp ideas. In the theme of dreams of the family vs. the child’s dreams, Antonio faces conflict in what she dreams he will become against what his mother dreams of him.

According to his mother, he will become a priest to lead the Luna people one day. However, towards the end of the book, it remains unclear what the future holds for Antonio. In the theme of loss of innocence, Antonio’s transition from innocence to experience manifests in the several trials he encounters throughout the book (Anaya, 2022). However, he feels he has lost his innocence when he seeks religious answers.

With the deaths of those around him and trying to meet his parents’ expectations, Antonio confronts the idea of good despite his understanding of Catholicism. The understanding of Catholicism resulted in their loss of innocence Antonio; it has also been central in helping him realize the different perspectives outside Christianity. The presence of Ultima has also been central to how Antonio stands against what his family expects of him and helps Antonio have a different view of the world around him.


Anaya, R. A. (2022). Bless me, Ultima. Penguin Books.