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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
The weather is warm. Antonio and Cico realize it’s time for the arrival of the golden carp. Cico tells him the Carp will arrive this day. “Around us the earth seemed to groan as it grew green.” They sit by the pond waiting. Antonio thinks of the silence of God at communion. He had gone every Sunday since his first communion to mass, but “there was no communication from Him.” He wonders at times if God is even still alive or if He had ever been. God had not been able to cure Lucas or free the Tellez family from the curse. Yet God would send people to hell or heaven when they died. He tells Cico that God doesn’t seem right. Cico agrees. Cico says he goes to church to please his mother. Cico tells him there are many gods, “gods of beauty and magic, gods of the garden, gods in out own backyards--but we go off to foreign countries to find new ones.” Antonio wonders why they don’t tell others about the golden carp. Cico says they would kill it because the god of the church is a jealous god. Antonio wonders what will happen if he becomes a priest. Cico tells him he will have to choose “between the god of the church and the beauty that is here and now.”
At that moment the golden carp appears. Antonio is in awe of it and thinks it is truly a god. They are both filled with rapture. Seeing the carp makes Antonio’s questions vanish. “I remained transfixed, caught and caressed by the essential elements of sky and earth and water.” Cico exclaims, “Damn, he’s beautiful.” Antonio wonders whose priest he will be. He thinks the golden carp makes the world peaceful. He tells Cico they should now tell Florence. He knows Florence will accept the golden carp because the golden carp is a god that doesn’t punish, but just brings beauty into life. Cico agrees that Florence is ready. He says Florence will not have to choose between gods. Antonio wonders if one has to choose or if it’s possible to have both. Cico thinks it’s possible since the golden carp accepts all magic that is good. Antonio is happy that they will be telling Florence. He thinks then they might tell Jason and others. It could be “the beginning of adoration of something simple and pure.”
As they make their way back, they see Horse and the others shouting for them. They tell Antonio and Cico that Florence is under the water. He had dived and had never come back up. Antonio sends Abel to get help. Cico is about to dive in when they see Florence’s body rise to the top. His eyes are open and have a white film over them. They pull the body to the surface and get it on shore. They find a red mark on the forehead where he must have hit bottom. They find wire around one of his arms. Antonio crosses himself and prays the Act of Contrition over him, but he knows it’s no good since Florence had never believed. The life guards arrive and begin trying to resuscitate Florence. Antonio looks up and sees two hawks circling overhead as they ride the warm air currents.
Antonio leaves the crowd of people and runs. He goes to the river and wades across it. He feels sad when he hears the church bells begin to toll.
The characteristics of the golden carp are further elucidated in this chapter. Cico tells Antonio that the golden carp represents the celebration of the here and now. Cico thinks of the Christina God as a distant god, brought from foreign lands and found in the stars when the people already had plenty of gods in their own back yards. The golden carp is also not a god of punishment. He is only a god of peace. A third element of the golden carp is that it is a god which does not make a division between the sacred and the profane. When Cico sees it, he exclaims, “Damn, he’s beautiful.” The profane word “damn” is not a irreverence in this context as it would be in a church.
Just as Antonio finds the golden carp and resolves in some sense at least to act as its priest in bringing his friend Florence to it, he finds Florence has died. Perhaps with this linkage, Anaya is suggesting that the mystery of death happens no matter what god one believes in.