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Free Study Guide-Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 3

Summary

When morning comes, Antonio feels that the time of youth is fleeing. He feels the sun rising and hears it mix with the mockingbirds' songs. He feels the sun wash his face clean. He knows the llaneros are people of the sun while the Lunas are people of the moon, but he also knows that "we are all children of the white sun."

Antonio notices a bitter taste in his mouth. He remembers Ultima's medicine. He examines his arms and face and finds that last night's cuts are only think pink lines now. He recognizes the strange power in Ultima's medicine.

He wonders about Lupito's soul. He knows that according the Roman Catholicism, Lupito had died with a mortal sin on his soul and so he would go to hell. Then he wonders if God would forgive Lupito and send him to "Purgatory, the lonely, hopeless resting place of those who were neither saved nor damned." Then he realizes God does not forgive anyone. He wonders if the waters of the river will wash Lupito's soul away. He thinks maybe the water would seep into the earth and Lupito's soul would water the orchards of the Lunas. He wonders next of Lupito will be doomed to wander the river bottom for years like la Llorona.

Antonio lays back and watches the dust motes dance in the sun beams. He wonders about the men on the bridge having to walk the earth with a mortal sin on their souls. He hears his mother downstairs calling his father. Antonio always listens to his parents' Sunday morning argument from his bed in the attic. His father only works half days on Saturday. Afterwards he drinks and becomes angry. He curses everyone, including his wife for being the daughter of farmers and forcing him to be tied to one piece of land. Another argument concerns religion. Gabriel does not strongly believe in religion. He often calls the priests women as a term indicating weakness. Antonio remembers a story about his father's father who had taken a priest from his church and beaten him for speaking against him.


Another whispered tale concerned the first priest who went to El Puerto. The colony settled there under a land grant from Mexico. The priest, a Luna, led the colonization. Antonio's mother wants him to become a priest to carry on this heritage. She is a devout Catholic. She believes the soul is only saved through the Holy Mother Church. She also believes the world would be saved by people turning to the earth. "A community of farmers ruled over by a priest, she firmly believed, was the true way of life."

His mother calls Deborah and Theresa for breakfast, then she calls Antonio. He is soothed by the repetition of the family's routine. María announces that they will have no breakfast, but will go directly to communion. She tells Theresa and Deborah to offer half their communion for their brothers and half for what happened last night. When they ask her, she will not tell them what happened last night. Antonio feels Ultima's hand on his head. She asks him how he feels and he nods his head. María scolds Antonio for not greeting Ultima properly. Ultima tells her to leave Antonio to her. Gabriel pours Ultima coffee. Antonio notices that his father and Ultima are the only adults he knows who break their fast before communion.

María exclaims that Antonio is only a boy, not a man as Ultima has intimated. She says it is a sin for a boy to grow to be a man. Gabriel objects and says it is only a fact of life. María counters that "life destroys the pureness God gives." Gabriel answers that everything Antonio sees and does makes him a man. María cries out that if only Antonio would become a priest he would be saved. She wants to talk to Father Byrnes about it, but Gabriel reminds her Antonio has not even been through his catechism. Not only a priest, but Antonio himself will decide if he will become a priest.

Antonio runs to do his chores. It is autumn. He knows he will soon be going to visit his uncles' farms for the harvest. Then he would be going to school. He looks across the river. A mist blurs the trees and buildings of the town. He thinks that already the bells of the school are ringing. He lets the cow out to graze and is glad that she does not head in the direction of the river. He prays for the soul of Lupito to be taken to his rest. Antonio is afraid to think anymore. He sees the railroad tracks and knows they run to the town of Las Pasturas. Suddenly he hears his mother calling him.

María and Ultima are dressed in black for mourning. Because of the losses of the war, it seems as though the whole town is in mourning. Antonio hears his father exclaim about the night before. He knows that indirectly the war of the Japanese and Germans has claimed two more lives in Guadalupe. Antonio's mother calls him to her and smoothes his hair down. She smells sweet to him and he feels soothed being near her. He knows he will be taken from his mother when he begins school. His sister Deborah has told him the teachers only let them speak English at school. Antonio is afraid. The family proceeds up the path toward town. They call it the goat path because every day when their father returns home from work, the children run to greet him and he calls them his cabroncitos or cabritos (little goats).

Some people whisper that Ultima is a woman without sin. They whisper "curandera" when she passes. Some whisper "Hechicera (sorceress), bruja (witch)." Ultima asks Antonio why he is so thoughtful. He says he is thinking of Lupito and the fact that his father was on the bridge. He wonders how Gabriel can go to communion if he has sinned. Ultima tells him that one llanero will not kill another without just cause. She adds that she does not think Gabriel fired at Lupito. She tells Antonio never to judge who God forgives and who He does not. He wants to know what Ultima gave him last night to sleep. She laughs at his inquisitiveness. She tells him a curandera cannot give her secrets away, but if he wants to know he has to be patient and watchful. Knowledge will come to him slowly.

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