Bless Me, Ultima: Novel Summary: Chapter 4

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In the late summer, on their morning walks in the llano, Antonio continues to learn from Ultima about plants and their spirits. With this knowledge he feels that he becomes part of the life that teems around him.

Ultima explains why the two sides of his family are so different. It is the nature of the Lunas, his mother's family, to be quiet, but the Marez have to be restless because of the wild blood that flows in their veins. After that they are silent for a long time, and then gradually the silence begins to speak to him. He becomes attuned to the mysterious presence of the river.

After supper the family prays the rosary. Antonio feels great devotion to the Virgin Mary, in part because she forgives everything, whereas God does not always forgive. God made laws and has the power to punish if those laws are broken. That night Antonio has another vivid dream, this time of the Virgin. He wakes up screaming when he sees that the Virgin is in mourning for him. Ultima comforts him.

Analysis

After Ultima describes the enormous differences between the two sides of his family, Antonio becomes fully aware that one day he must make a choice-will he be his mother's priest or his father's son? But there is also another conflict emerging in seed form in this chapter, one that he is not yet aware of. Antonio is being brought up as a Catholic, but he is also being exposed to the spirituality practiced by Ultima, in which everything, even the nonhuman world, has a spirit. All individual spirits share in the one spirit that animates the whole of creation. This is not exactly a Christian teaching, and Antonio will soon become much more aware of an alternative spirituality that is very attractive to him.

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