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Free Study Guide-Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER 2

Summary (continued)

Then he hears the owl. He stops and listens and he realizes the owl had been with him the whole time. He suddenly loses his fear. He looks at his house. The moon is the horned moon of the Virgin, the mood of the Lunas. He hears the owl sing again and "Ultima's spirit bathed me with its strong resolution." He looks back over the river and beyond it to the town. He knows the "river's brown waters would be stained with blood, forever and ever and ever . . ."

He knows he will be going to school in the autumn and then to catechism at the church. His body hurts from the wounds of his run through the brush and he hurts more for having witnessed a man die. He knows his father does not like the town. When they had first moved to the area, they had rented a house in town. Then, Gabriel had bought some land and built the house. Everyone said he was crazy to build on a barren spot of land. María wanted him to build on the fertile land by the river. Gabriel won the fight. Their land is the beginning of the llano.

Antonio tries to understand why the men had killed Lupito. He feels sick. He slips into the house and as he climbs the stairs he feels a hand take his. It is Ultima. He falls. Ultima takes him to her room and mixes herbs for him to drink. Then she prepares another potion for his cuts. He asks her questions and she soothes him. He hears her say, "The ways of men are strange, and hard to learn." Antonio feels safe in her room. He dreams of his three brothers before they went away to war.

They stand beside the rented house in town and look at the hills of the llano. In his dream, he hears León, his eldest brother, repeat Gabriel's idea that the town steals their freedom and Gabriel's idea to build a castle on the other side of the river on "the lonely hill of the mockingbirds." Andrew, his second eldest brother, speaks of their forefathers who came from the sea, the conquistadores. Eugene repeats Gabriel's idea that the freedom of the wild horses is in the Márez blood and the Márez always look westward. Gabriel's ancestors were vaqueros and he expects his sons to be men of the llano.

Antonio speaks and says they must gather around their father. He tells his brothers of his father's new dream to ride westward in search of new adventure. "He builds highways that stretch into the sun and we must travel that road with him." Antonio's brothers frown and tell him he is a Luna and must be a farmer-priest for their mother. The doves come to drink in the river and Antonio hears their mournful cries. His brothers laugh at him and say he is their mother's dream. They tell him to stay and sleep to the doves' call while they cross the River of the Carp to build their father's castle. Antonio calls out to them that he must go with them. He must bless their new home with the waters of the river.


Along the river, he hears the "tormented cry of a lonely goddess." Antonio's brothers call out fearfully that it is the call of la llorona (the sorrowful woman). They say she is an old witch who seeks the blood of boys and men to drink. They say she seeks Antonio's soul. Then they cry out that it is the soul of Lupito wandering around because the river washed his soul away. Antonio says the call is neither la llorona nor Lupito. Antonio swings a priest's robe over his shoulders and says it is the presence of the river. His brothers call for him to save them. Antonio peaks to the presence of the river and it allows his brothers to cross it to build the castle on the hill. He hears their mother cry because her son is growing older.

Notes

Ultima begins her mentoring of Antonio in this chapter. She teaches him the names of the flora and fauna of the llano and the river. She also teaches him sympathy with the rhythms of the earth. Ultima's wisdom is the oneness of the person and the earth. Closely linked to this sense of oneness is the presence of the river. Ultima tells him the river and he share the same spirit.

Antonio refers to the presence or the soul of the river. He believes the river is animated by an ancient soul that watches out for the people that come to it. This belief comes from the religion of the Aztecs. He learns more about it from Jasón and from Ultima. When he thinks he hears Lupito asking him to bless him before he dies, Antonio repeats the Act of Contrition, but he despairs of anyone's ability to wash the blood of murder from the river. Here again, Anaya describes a syncretism between Catholicism and Native American religion. Antonio begins his path toward becoming a priest, whether it will be a priest of the Catholic church is yet to be seen.

That night he has his second dream. This one involves his three brothers. It also relates to Antonio's destiny, but it brings in a third element. It combines the pull between the Lunas and the Márezes with the pull of the river's presence. Antonio has been learning of the spirit of the land from Ultima. He puts the dark priest's robe on, but he speaks of a power that is outside the doctrine of Catholicism. Perhaps this dream suggests that Antonio will be a priest of the River of the Carp.

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