Bless Me, Ultima: Novel Summary: Chapter 9

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Antonio has a disturbing dream in which he sees his brothers entering Rosie's house, which is a house of prostitution. He begs Andrew not to enter. Andrew replies that he will not enter until Antonio loses his innocence. Antonio protests that innocence is forever. His mother, in the dream, tells him that he will lose innocence at his first communion, for then he will understand good and evil. Ultima appears and gives him a mystical answer, saying that innocence resides in the land of his birth. But this does not satisfy him.  

When Tony wakes he hears the argument going on downstairs. Leon and Eugene have told their father of their plans. They do not want to go to California with him. They prefer to go to Santa Fe and live their own lives. Andrew, however, decides to take a job in town and remain living at home. He also decides to try and complete his high school education.

Tony wonders about his own future. It is the end of the school year and he has learned to read and write. He is allowed to skip second grade and go straight to third grade.

As the vacation begins, Tony goes fishing for catfish with his friend Samuel at the River of the Carp.  They do not fish for carp, since that is considered bad luck. Samuel tells Tony a story: a long time ago the people who lived there were forbidden by the gods to catch carp, since the carp was a sacred fish. But then there was a forty-year drought, and because of the failure of crops, the people were forced to catch and eat carp. The gods punished them by turning them into carp and making them live in the river forever. It is therefore a sin to catch carp and a worse sin to eat one. Samuel also tells a story that the golden carp was formerly a god who took pity on his people and asked to be turned into a carp so he could swim in the river and take care of them. The idea that the golden carp is a god shocks and confuses Tony, since he had been taught to believe that Jesus was God. And what about the Virgin? Could it be that his mother is praying to the wrong God?

Analysis

Tony's world is rocked by his first exposure to pagan myths. The myth of the golden carp presents him with ideas that are very different from the Christian doctrines he is being raised to believe in. Tony does not know what to believe, since the two versions of reality seem to be in conflict with each other. True to his nature, he never ceases to ask questions about where the truth really lies.

 

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