Bless Me, Ultima: Novel Summary: Chapter 13

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The next day the family departs for the village  of El Puerto,  where Tony's relatives on his mother's side live. There is great excitement there, since everyone has heard what happened to Tenorio. The next day they watch the funeral procession for Tenorio's daughter. It is led by Tenorio on horseback, followed by a horse-drawn wagon that contains the coffin. But when the procession reaches the church, the priest refuses to say the mass for the dead or allow a burial on holy ground. The procession turns around. Tenorio's daughter will have to be buried in unholy ground. And without the having the mass said, her soul, according to Catholic doctrine, will be damned.

Analysis

This brief chapter gives more insight into the local beliefs about witchcraft and its rituals. Much of this is directly opposite to Christian ritual. The night before the funeral, for example, the witches read from their Black Book; they burn sulfur instead of incense; they kill a rooster and spread his blood on the dead body (perhaps in  a perverse mockery of the Christian Eucharist). All this is done so that the devil will come and sleep with the corpse before it is buried.

These details serve to build up the theme of evil in the novel, and the chapter as a whole ratchets up the tension of the overall situation, since Tenorio still vows to have revenge on Ultima. This anticipates the final showdown in the last chapter.

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