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Free Study Guide-Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER 3

Summary (continued)

At the bridge, María hurries her daughters across while Gabriel lingers and looks into the river. What happened last night seems to be a dream now to Antonio. They enter the town. Only one house stands away from the rest, a big gray stucco house. It used to belong to a wealthy family, but now it belongs to a woman named Rosie. Antonio knows Rosie is evil in a way that is different from the evil of witches. Antonio has heard the priest preach against the women of Rosie's house. María makes her children bow their heads as they pass it.

He hears the church bells ring and thinks of it calling the people to the six o'clock mass. He realizes the church bells are announcing Lupito's death. The bells call the women who pray for their men. The church brings the living and the dead close together. The church is the biggest building Antonio has ever seen. People gather outside the doors and talk about last night.

Antonio joins the children from town. They are mostly older than he is. Ernie brags that his father saw Lupito shoot the sheriff. Horse denies the truth of this. The children call this boy Horse because he has a horse's face and he stomps the ground. Bones curses and acts out the shooting. Samuel says he went to the river that morning and saw blood on the sand. Samuel lives upriver from Antonio's house past the railroad bridge. The Vitamin Kid challenges them to a race and paws the ground. Everyone calls him the Vitamin Kid, even the teachers, because he is always running.

Horse calls out "bullshit" and spits. Florence spits a bigger ball of mucous. Abel laughs saying Florence beat Horse. Horse grabs Abel and flips him so that Abel lands hard on the ground. He whispers "Cabron" (bastard). Horse makes him take back his word that Florence beat him. When Abel gets out of range, he taunts Horse, saying Florence did beat him.


Ernie continues with his story of his father seeing the shooting last night in the cafe. Horse again claims Ernie is lying and tries to engage Florence in another spitting contest. Florence refuses. Antonio has never seen another Spanish speaking person who is a light as Florence, a boy with blond hair. Ernie says brains and blood were spattered all over the cafe.

Lloyd claims that Lupito will go to hell. He says it is the law. Florence laughs and says everyone from Los Jaros goes to hell. Los Jaros is the neighborhood across the tracks. Horse, Bones, Abel, and Florence live there. Horse tells Florence he will go to hell since he does not believe in God. Horse challenges Florence to a wrestling match. Lloyd objects that it is a sin to wrestle before mass.

Horse catches sight of Antonio and calls him over. When Horse reaches for his neck, Antonio ducks and comes up yanking Horse's leg. He flips Horse on his back. Everyone laughs. Horse comes up to Antonio who fears he will be beaten but stands his ground. Horse looks at him closely and then lets out a loud cry that sends Antonio scooting backward. He asks Antonio's name. Antonio replies first Anthony Márez and then says Antonio Juan Márez y Luna out of respect for his mother. Horse wants to know if he is Andrew's brother. Horse forgives him for throwing him. He says he is smart. All the boys gather around and ask Antonio where he lives. He becomes part of their gang. They all run to mass to get "the premium pews at the very back of the church."

Notes

In recognizing that despite differences between the llaneros and the Lunas, all are children of the white sun, Antonio shows his potential as a person who can unify the two sides of Mexican-and Spanish-American heritage.

Antonio begins to question the answers of religion when he sees Lupito killed. Anaya accomplishes a great deal by having Antonio as a child narrator. Antonio can ask the basic questions of received wisdom, questions adults have long since reconciled or forgotten. He asks these questions with a pure heart, not a cynical skepticism. His most urgent question has to do with forgiveness. He searches among religious traditions he knows to find which will satisfy his desire to see Lupito forgiven. As he understands it, the Catholic church has a very rigid schema for determining sin and judgment. Lupito will go to hell because he has committed a mortal sin without confession before he was killed. The second tradition, that which reveres the river as a sort of god, would see the river washing Lupito's blood downstream where it would fertilize the crops of the Lunas. The third possibility for life after death is that of la Llorona. She is the sorrowful woman who haunts the banks of the Guadalupe river looking for her lost sons. Antonio wonders if he will have to fear Lupito as well as la Llorona when he goes to the river at night.

María Luna's vision for the salvation of the world is an interesting mix of traditions. First, she is a devout Catholic and second she believes if people would turn to the earth they would be saved. Her version of Catholicism is far different from the kind in which all things earthly are considered sinful.

The boys from town, especially Horse and Bones, are extremely odd figures. They represent the children from the barrio, who have to fend for themselves. They pride themselves on the severity of their curses and the strength of their bodies to run, fight, or spit. Yet Horse and Bones are more than just barrio kids. They seem to represent animal spirits in children's bodies. In bringing them into the novel, Anaya creates a bridge between the religion of the ancient Native Americans, in which people have animal spirits, and the city life of poor kids. The ancient traditions thrive in the barrio as well as in the country by the river. Antonio's virtues show up clearly against the backdrop of these boys. He stands his ground even when he is terribly afraid. They also provide a running commentary on the different ideas of the afterlife.

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