Bless seven year old child,narrates in first

Bless seven year old child,narrates in first

Bless Me, Ultima: The Cultural Distress of a Young SocietyAn answer to the discussion question of whether or not there is adefined border culture would need a great number of years in field research, butwe can also observe a few of the characteristics of such border culture just bylooking at scholastic essays and books related to the topic. Within theresearch that I did, I found a number of scholars who, while defining the border,mention all the specific or special characteristics of this new emerging society,but who also very few times defined it as such. In the book that I researched,Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo A. Anaya, we find many of those characteristics.

There is already much work on this piece of literature, therefore, I decided topresent my research and study in two ways. First, I will give a personalanalysis of the work, in which I will discuss the different topics andparallelisms that I believe are related to an emerging border culture, andsecond, I will discuss and complete analysis made by Roberto Cantu, publishedin The Iden tification and Analysis of Chicano Literature.The novel by Rudolfo Anaya Bless Me, Ultima, was printed in June 1972,but won the first price in the Second Annual Premio Quinto Sol Literary Award in1971.The main characters of the novel are Antonio, his father, mother, twosisters, three brothers, Tenorio and his three daughters, and Ultima. Theargument presents how a child, (Antonio), matures in one year, thanks to thedifferent episodes that he goes through.

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Antonio, a seven year old child,narrates in first person, and describes the events that changed his life fromthe moment that Ultima arrived at his house. During the beginning of the book,his thoughts and actions are typical of such age, but as the events take place,Antonio changes and matures incredible fast through the text. It is even hardto find where the changes in his behavior take place, due to Rudolfo’s smoothliterary transitions.Carl and Paula Shirley condense their presentation of Bless Me, Ultimaby simply mentioning the story line of the book:She (Ultima) is present from the boy’s earliest experiences growingup, family conflict, school, religion, evil and death…

Much good inthis novel, beauty, magic, New Mexico landscape, legends… (Shirley andShirley, 105).All of this is true, but there is more that they did not mention. Thenovel is full of inner conflicts.

Each of the story lines of thought of Antoniorepresents not only a personal conflict, but also a social one. An old societyvs. a new one, Spanish vs. English, good vs. evil, Catholics vs. Protestants vs.

legends, the town vs. the llano and so on. In each one of them we can see theformation or foundation of a new society ruled by Antonio’s generation. A newsociety not yet aware of itself, but new nevertheless.For a better understanding of my analysis I have defined severaldifferent components that present essential keys in the underlined developmentof a border culture. The development if the Mexican border culture is called tobe a mixture of two worlds. Tom Miller says that:Ironies and contradictions thrive on the border between the US andMexico, a region that does not adhere to the economic, ethical, political, orcultural standards of either country (.

..) It is a third country of itsown, its own food, its language, its music (…

)It is a colony onto itself,long and narrow, ruled by two faraway powers. (Tom Miller, xii)In the same way, Anaya’s description of Antonio’s life representsironies and contradictions, first in a main cultural collision of Mexican andAnglo culture, family structure and language; and then, in more deep levels ofreligion, and basic understanding of oneself. Inner fights and double realitiesare present through out Antonio’s development. Ramon Saldivar does an extensivestudy of Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima, and as well as Shirley and Shirley, he seemsto be afraid of calling or recognizing a representation of a border culture.Saldivar says:Bless Me, Ultima thus can be said to capture in the form of romancecritical and complex transition period in literary-cultural history of the Southwest: the simultaneous existence withinChicano communities of pre-Columbianmyths, beliefs, legendsand superstitions, and mid-twentieth centurytechnological, literate mass media culture. (Saldivar, 108).

As I mention before, Bless Me Ultima presents the struggle between twodifferent life styles and cultures. On one hand, we have the Mexicantraditional life style: Antonio’s father was a men of the llano, a vaquero; hismother is from a family of free farmers. On the other hand, we find a verystrong influence of American individualism. We see this influence in Antonio’sthree brothers: after they returned from W.W.II, their parents are hoping thatthey would become part of their family again, but the three brothers decide tohave a life of their own: not as farmers, not as vaqueros, not as highwayworkers, not even in the same town, but an independent life in the states. Onlyone of them decides to stay, but not for long.

Due to these series of facts,Antonio lives a struggle in his mind. Should he become a farmer or a priest ashis mother wanted? Should he decide his own future no matter what theconsequences are? Talking about his families Antonio says: “I love them both,and yet I am o f neither (Anaya, 38).At he same time, Antonio is going to school across the bridge, to anAmerican school. This is one of the most important aspects of his culturaldevelopment as well as our main point in identifying a border culture. There isa two level explanation for this chapter: first, we have to remember thatAntonio’s father Gabriel was a men of the llano, a vaquero who thought thatfreedom is the most important thing in anyone’s life.

Gabriel blames the Texans,(Americans), over and over again for putting fences across his llano, across hisfreedom. Gabriel never gets accustomed to the life in the city. Furthermore,he drinks more and more, and looks forward to the visitors of the llano who cometo his house once in a while to remember old stories. His Mexican culture istoo strong. There will be no possible adaptation for him.

In the same way,Antonio goes to school, He does not understand English, and therefore does notunderstand the kids in the school. He knows that the kids are laughing at himbecause of the way he speaks, the way he behaves, the way he looks and thethings he eats. In a way, his freedom , his culture and understanding of lifedo not make sense anymore. Now, the difference between Antonio and his fatherculture collision is that Antonio gets accustomed to it.

In a while it does notbother him anymore. Why? The reason is simple: there were other kids like himin school. A sense of mutual bondage, due to cultural differences makes thisgroup of kids to stick together and question life on their own.Language and relationships are also another important part on Antonio’sculture construction.

Soon after Antonio’s family moved to New Mexico, Tono andAntonio became Tony and Anthony. Furthermore, we see how the kids in schoolused a mixed Spanish and English, especially to swear: “Ay Dios! ” , “Laverga!”, “La Chingada!”, “se chingo!”, “Ay Diablo!”, “Ah la veca!”, “The hotbeans flavored with chicos and green chile were muy sabrosos”.Also, Antonio’s friends are also different. It was shocking to Antoniothat his friends were no longer dark skinned with dark eyes and hair.

Hementions that some of them were tall with clear eyes and blond hair.Furthermore, it was even more shocking that those new light kids were speakingin Spanish. The fact is that he was no longer in the land of Mexico. He was nolonger in a protective environment.Antonio comes from an strict catholic environment. There is nothingelse but Catholicism. His mother wants him to become a priest as one of herancestors was, but Antonio is battling a struggle of his own.

He is now goingto school with Protestant kids. Also, one of his best friends tells him thelegend of the Carpa, a God who decided to become a fish to save his people, butwho will let the town sink on their own sins. Antonio is afraid of loosing hisfaith. Different episodes of the book make him question his traditional faith.He believes that God is just and omnipotent, but he also sees how innocent mendie, and their murderers get free.

His is also witness of the impotence of apriest to save his uncles life, when then Ultima cured him with her magic.Antonio is confused and afraid of God’s justice. I the same way, we find aparallelism or personification of the three people in God in his family. God, asthe powerful father makes the decisions. The Virgin Mary represented by the mother who intercedes to the father for the abolition of punishments for the sons.Then, we have the holy spirit, represented by Ultima and the owl.

The purewomen who has never sin, whose power and magic is the power of truth and good.When the holy ghost came to the apostles, they knew what to do. Words are nevermention. In the same way, Ultima never told Antonio what to do. She wouldsimply bless him and suddenly he would feel a power through him that would makehim almost faint.

Moreover, not only his faith is the question but also his background.His mother is a Luna, family of farmers. His father is a Marez, family of theLlano, wanderers and vaqueros who come from the conquistadores, men of the sea.Antonio’s inner conflict represents yet another parallelism. The sea and themoon are interconnected.

The sea is a brave and powerful element, yet, the moonmoves it every day. In other words, the sea is controlled by the attraction ofthe moon who moves it back and forth. In the same way, we may say thatAntonio’s passion, blood, or impulse are like the sea, but his thoughts, hiscommon sense comes from his mother’s part of the family, from the Lunas. Inother words, where he comes from, what he is, and how he is supposed to behaveis the conflict that it is going on inside him.Each person on the novel plays and important part on Antonio’s life andstruggle to find the true meaning of life and himself. Moreover, the mostimportant person in Antonio during these years, and probably for the future isLa Grande.

Ultima represents the old, the tradition. The contact that theyhave with each other is more on the spiritual level: the old and the newcreating a new form of relationship. Antonio does not look for this bondagewith Ultima.

It is Ultima who lets Antonio get close to her, and therefore,meaning that she, the old and traditional, gives permission to the new to bondwith her. This is to live and learn from the past to better adapt it to thefuture.In conclusion, we find that Antonio is living a continuous struggle byquestioning all he ever knew. His culture, language, religion, his family andhis background. The answers to this continuous questioning will be thedevelopment of a new culture which will be an unconscious forced mixture of twoworlds colliding, which resulted from the alienation that Mexico and US culturessubjugated each other.

Roberto Cantu does an great job in analyzing the book by Anaya. Thereason of my study is because Cantu divides the novel in three underlined worldsof “Universe, world, and Antonio” which he explains by looking at the past,present and future actions in the book. On the other hand, Cantu does notmention or recognize the new society as such. As we will see in the next pages,the three levels of time are directly involved with the development of a newsubculture which calls “Regeneration, New Life and New Universe”.The Universe and the three time periods are obiously related to thecontext of the old testament. The legend of the Carpa nad the imminent Floodare the garden of Eden and the destruction of such. What is very related to outopic is that Cico, (the friend who tells Antonio the legend), and a group offriends trully believe that their city will sink under the lake in which nowlays upon.

Only the good citizens, the ones who do not sin will be able to savethemselves. Then, they are waiting for the end, for the imminent folld in whichthey, the group of comrades who have everything in common will only be saved.The rest of the world who allietes them will be destroyed. Then, the Universewill be ready for a New Universe, in other words for a new culture: theirculture.Roberto Cantu divides his analysis of the World in three parts:”language, religion and family” (Jimenez 378). While talking about the languagesued in Bless me Ultima, Cantu mentions the use of Spanish words, the differentfluctuations of the language, the poetic tone, the energy and narrative tone ofthe writer, and probably every single aspect of the text that he thoughtpertinent. But Cantu also says:Uno de los principales deberes de la escuela es, obviamente, el de ensenar alChicano el idioma ingles, facilitando de esta manera una sana adaptacion almedio ambiente.

(Jimenez 380)The relationship between language and a border identity is right under his nose,but he does not want to mention anything about it:Ahora bien, en vez de mejorar su situacion, o por lo menos deampliarlas facultades comunicativas del mismo, “incomunica” al chicano, separandole desu familia y de su cultura (lengua,historia), a la par que mantiene ciertadistancia de la cultura sajona. En otras palabras: que no asimila facilmente.(Jimenez, 380) Yes. He is right. The Chicano gets further from its own culturebut never assimilates the Anglo system. That is what makes it a sub-culture! AsCantu and myself mentioned before, language is the first signs of the borderculture.

Shirley and Shirley agree by identifying the following:Many Chicanos, especially in urban areas, speak and understand a thirdlanguage called Calo, or Poncho, or Pachuco. This mixes English and Spanishgrammars, structures and vocabulary to forma hybrid language; itcombines both languages while adding new words and structures. (Shirley &Shirley, XV)What other prove do we want. In page 39, 51 and 162, we find thefollowing constructions: “The hot beans flavored with chicos and green chilewere muy sabrosos”.

“Only ricos could afford school”. “Muchacho (…) I needconfession”.There is no much else that I can say about proving that there is asignificant border culture embodied in the language. The quotes and the writersspeak by themselves, even though they do not call it anything.

At nay rate, Cantu goes ahead with the second part of his world analysis,religion. He presents good ideas when he says: “Church is degraded” ((Jimenez,382). Moreover, he quotes Bless Me, Ultima: “los dioses estan muriendo, if theold religion could no longer answer the questions of the children then perhapsit was time to change it” (Anaya, 233). Of course.

It was time to change it.Let’s just simply ask and answer some questions: Who what’s to change it? Thechildren. Why? Because it does not answer their questions. What questions?Well, the questions about themselves and their new environment.

The childrenare still to young to understand that they are in a new culture. They arebetween the ages of 7 and 11 and already feel that they do not belong in theirsurroundings. What else should we look for? The children are lost in a worldthat is not theirs, therefore, they have to create their own, a personal worldthat answers their questions, an new culture, an new border culture.In the third part of the world analysis Cantu is very clear. Thegreatness of Antonio’s ancestors. His mother’s family, founders of “ElPastoral” , rich farmers freed to work for anyone but themselves. His father’sancestors, who came to be conquistadores.

Then, degradation. His father andhis mother, two completely different people who never communicated. Antonio’sbrothers who leave the family tradition to work on their own in the states.

Antonio is his parent’s only hope for regeneration:Se sugiere el advenimiento de una familia en al que campeara la armonia y lacomunion de objetivos vitales (…) se nos revelara la solucion de esteconflicto historico en un cabal mestizaje -ideologico, cultural- que superael meramente sanguineo. (Jimenez 384-385)Cantu cannot get any closer to say that there is a representation of anew evolving border culture in the text.

In his last part, Cantu explains Antonio’s inner conflict. Hisancestral and different heritage of the Lunas and the Marez, the degradation ofhis family and his religious and cultural ideas, and finally the “regenerationonto a new life” (Jimenez 385). Now, what exactly does Cantu mean by a newlife? As we have seen along this paper, I have proved that there is a newborder culture being born during each one of the episodes of the story.Furthermore, through all the research that I have done, no one has even mentionthe possibility of an emerging new culture within the book. Does Canturecognize this culture? I believe that he does, but as well as all the otherwriters, he does not want to acknowledge it. Why? That is another paper topic.BIBLIOGRAPHYAnaya, R.

(1972). Bless Me, Ultima. California: Quinto Sol Publications, Inc.Calderon, H.

& Saldivar, J. (1991). Criticism in the Borderlands.

Durham &London: Duke University Press.Creel, J. (1986). The People Next Door, an Interpretative History of Mexico andMexicans. New York: John Day.Diaz-Guerrero, R.

(1991). Understanding Mexicans and Americans. New York:Plenum Press.Di-Bella, J. (1989).

Literatura de la Frontera. California: Binational Press.Frost, E. (1972). Las Categorias de la Cultura Mexicana. Mexico: UniversidadNacional Autonoma de Mexico.Herrera-Sobek, M.

(1992). Toward a promised land: La frontera as amyth and reality in ballad and song. Aztlan 21 no 1-2:227-62 ’92 ’96Jimenez, F. (1979). The Identification and Analysis of Chicano Literature.

New York: Bilingual Press.Miller, T. (1981). On the Border. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.Salado Alvarez, V. (1968).

De como escapo Mexico de ser Yankee. Mexico:Editorial Jus.Saldivar, R. (1990). Chicano Narrative.

Wisconsin: The University ofWisconsin Press.Shirley C. & Shirley P. (1988). Understanding Chicano Literature. Columbia:University of South Carolina Press.

Universidad Autonoma de Baja California. (1983). Estudios Fronterizos.Revista del Instituto de investigaciones sociales.

Mexicali: UniversidadAutonoma de Baja California.

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