Bless Me, Ultima: Novel Summary: Chapter 20

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After Easter, Tony goes regularly to confession and communion but he is not satisfied by the experience. He is searching for something, although he does not know what it is. 

A man named Téllez, an old friend of Tony's father, comes to Ultima for help. There are strange things going on in his house. Pots, pans and dishes are lifting themselves in the air and crashing about. Téllez believes a curse has been laid upon the house, but the priest has been unable to remove it.  Tony's father visits the house and sees the strange phenomena for himself. Ultima explains that a curse has been laid on the spirits of three Indians who were hanged by Téllez's grandfather. They now haunt the house.

Ultima, Tony and Tony's father go to Téllez's ranch house to tackle the problem. As they enter the house a cloud passes overhead and darkens it. Téllez knows that this is the evil presence. There is a pounding noise on the roof. Then suddenly it stops, and the cloud moves away. But around the house now lie stones the size of melons, that have fallen from the sky onto the roof.

Ultima orders Gabriel to erect a wooden platform and pile juniper branches on it. Tony cuts the juniper branches. Ultima emerges from the house carrying three bundles, and asks that they be placed on the platform. Tony does not know what is in the bundles. Then on Ultima's instructions, Gabriel sets fire to the platform. The fire burns until everything is turned to ashes. Ultima says the work is complete; the curse has been lifted.  

Analysis

This episode parallels the one recorded in chapter ten, when Ultima lifts a curse from Tony's uncle Lucas and saves his life. Like that incident, this one shows the power of Ultima's magic. It also serves to keep the theme of good versus evil fresh in the reader's mind.  Finally, it shows the mental growth of Tony's father. Up to this point, he has been skeptical about religion, and has shown no interest in metaphysical questions. But when he sees for himself what the evil spirits are capable of, he willingly helps Ultima remove the curse.

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