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Bless Me, Ultima | Study Guide

Rudolfo A. Anaya

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Bless Me, Ultima | Motifs



Many of Antonio's dreams are described in detail in the text. These dreams reflect his confusion and the mysteries of life he's trying to understand. Sometimes Antonio's dreams explain events in the past and sometimes they foreshadow events to come.

Through Antonio's dreams the author vividly reveals Antonio's inner feelings and struggles. The dreams also give the reader information about Antonio's relationship with his relatives, friends, and even the forces (such as the supernatural) swirling around him. Antonio dreams of his brothers and of the tension between Ultima's goodness and Tenorio's evil. The dreams are a means of looking beneath the surface of everyday reality to the deeper, often spiritual, meaning of Antonio's experience and the events in the book.

Family: Expectations and Conflict

Through much of the novel the author describes the tension between the cultural differences of Antonio's parents. The conflict of traditions is presented in conversation and prayers, in hopes and expectations expressed by each parent. The push and pull of the conflicting expectations—arising from very different family traditions—is an important driving force in the book.

Antonio's mother, Maria, comes from a deeply religious farming tradition. Her sincerest hope—one she repeats frequently—is for her son Antonio to become a priest in the Catholic Church. This is a source of worry and indecision for Antonio, who wants to please his mother but has difficulty relating to the Catholic Church's rigid beliefs.

Antonio's father, Gabriel, comes from a wilder, more freedom-loving, less religious, and more male-oriented, or macho, tradition. Gabriel's expectations for his son are more often implied than openly stated. He would like Antonio to grow up to choose working with him doing manual labor (like a real man). Gabriel wanted his other sons to do the same, but their military service changed them, and they left their father and their home.


Tenorio Trementina seems to be a male witch, but he's revealed to be simply an evil-minded drunk. When anything harms him or his family he immediately seeks violent revenge. Even when someone makes a seemingly innocent remark, he takes it as an insult and becomes fixated on vengeance. He seeks revenge for harm done to him or his daughters even when this harm is a consequence of his or his daughters' evil actions. Tenorio thrives on revenge and seems incapable of living without it.

Tenorio's fixation on revenge is a powerful force driving the novel's action. Many of the other characters in the book must deal with and struggle against his evil nature. Tenorio's burning hatred of Ultima and his desire to murder her propel the story toward its final act.

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