introduction to bless me, ultima by rudolpho anaya


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Part 2, Chs. 14-17

Introduction toBless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho Anaya

Debrief: Introduction by AnayaOverall, what did you think of his Introduction? What are 2 interesting things you learned?What did you learn about Bless Me, Ultima?What are the questions you had while reading?

Rudolfo Anayas Literary MissionI hope my books present some of my New Mexican culture which includes Hispanic and Native American traditions and ceremonies.I hope my stories build self-esteem and self-interest; that is, an interest in our history. We need the stories of our community told so we can see ourselves as actors in the drama of life.I've always used the technique of the cuento [story]. I am an oral storyteller, but now I do it on the printed page. I think if we were very wise we would use that same tradition in video cassettes, in movies, and on radio.Rudolfo Anayas BioThe Father of Chicano Literature (Chicano literature = literature written by Mexican Americans in the US; like HOMS)A native Hispanic man fascinated by cultural conflicts and confluences unique to the Southwest U.S.A., such as the cultural juxtaposition ofOld Spain and New SpainMexico/Mesoamerica and the anglicizing/colonizing forces of the 20th century

4Rudolfo Anayas LifeBorn October 30, 1937 toMartin Anaya, his father, was a vaquero (a rancher)andRafaelita Mares, his mother, who was from a family of farmers.Anaya chose education over the life of a vaquero or farmerAnayas family: mom, dad, 4 sisters, and 2 brothers (who spent his childhood fighting in WWII)BMU is semi-autobiographical.

5Bless Me, UltimaWritten: in the 1960s in Albuquerque, New MexicoFirst published in 1972Protagonist: AntonioNarrative Voice: First person narratorAntonio as an adult telling about his childhood.Setting: Guadalupe, New Mexico (rural area surrounded by the vast plains, called the llano [pronounced "yah-no])

6Setting backgroundNew Mexico had very diverse settlers: Native Americans, Spanish, and EnglishThe cultures adopted new ways of living from each other, but they also struggled (sometimes violently) to protect their freedom, language, and sovereign traditions.

Setting background, cont.The new settlers depended on the natives to help them survive in the new land, and as a result, the new settlers adopted the natives traditions.One of the greatest trades of tradition is the idea of physical vs. spiritual. The Spanish vaqueros (cowboys) introduced the native people to livestock (sheep and horses) while the native people shared their curanderas (spiritual healers)

Plot overviewThis is a bildungsroman (a coming of age novel) about six year old Antonio Marez, who grows up in a small New Mexico town shortly after World War II.

Major CharactersAntonio: 6 years old; ages to 8 by end of the novel; goes on a journey from innocence to maturity through experience.Ultima : an elderly curandera (an alternative medicine woman; spiritual healer), who comes to live with Antonio's family and serves as his guide; she possesses mystical powers and intellectual enlightenment.

Major Characters, cont.Gabriel Marez: Antonio's father; a vaquero (cowboy); feels a calling to the free-spirited, restless lifestyle of his ancestors Maria Luna: Antonio's mother; represents the farming tradition of being settled; tranquil, modest, and devout Catholic; wants Antonio to become a farmer or priest.

Central ConflictsAntonios attempts to reconcile his cultures conflicting traditionsThe cowboys vs. the farmersU.S. vs. Hispanic cultureAntonios attempt for independenceTo make moral decisions and accept responsibility for their consequences

12BMUs ThemesMoral independence cant be easily defined yet also remains extremely importantCulture can greatly influence identityConflict finds a solution in balance, harmony and onenessSynthesis works best to resolve opposites or differencesOnly through experience is innocence lost and maturity gained

Theme vs. MotifA motif differs from a theme in thata theme is an idea set forth by a texta motif is a recurring element which symbolizes that idea.

BMUs MotifsDreams: Antonio will have 10 dreams throughout the novel, mostly have to do with loss and how he matures through these experiencesBlood: In terms of violence; determining identity; a source of powerNames: Character names will have a variety of meaningsConflict: good vs evil; within a family; religion vs mysticismWater: rivers, rain, etc.

BMUs Literary ConventionsSymbolismArchetypeCharacterizationJuxtapositionHyperbole

Catholicism: StructureThe Pope leads the Church from Vatican City and is elected by a councilUnderneath the Pope are the archbishops, followed by the bishops, and the priestsThese ordained leaders are responsible for guiding their flocks and interpreting the word of GodPriests are responsible for hearing their flocks sins in confession and helping them purify their souls.

Catholicism: The 7 SacramentsSigns of grace and gifts of GodParallel the phases of life, birth, adolescence, marriage, and preparation for deathBaptism, Reconciliation (Confession), Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Anointing of the Sick

Catholicism: Basic DoctrineThe core text of Catholicism is the Bible (Old and New Testaments)Catholics are monotheists who believe in the divinity of ChristThe crucifixion of Christ is memorialized by the Eucharist through transubstantiation.Transubstantiation means that when people accept the Eucharist, it becomes the true body of Christ, so communion (eating the Eucharist) is the only way to completely be one with God

Catholicism: Basic Doctrine, cont.The Virgin Mary Jesuss motherIs the most important saint There are many other saints, who can intercede for believers through prayer to help them gain forgiveness from God.

Catholicism: Basic Doctrine, cont.Afterlife consists of heaven and hell, but also purgatory. Purgatory is a holding tank for souls that need further purification before ascending to heaven.Believers must confess to a priest before they die to cleanse their souls and avoid Purgatory.

Catholicisms SpreadIn what would later become Mexico and the SW US, Spanish priests established missions in the 16th century to spread the teachings of the Catholic Church to the native peoples.Many native people converted, but they maintained some of their ancient beliefs

Catholicism in BMUAntonio will learn about his faith and begin to question what these steps meanHe will also run into supernatural circumstances which will further challenge his faithWe will see the sacraments present in the novel and watch Antonio make choices concerning his faith

Catholicism in BMU, cont.Several times in the novel we will see Antonio become a sort of priest; he will take away sins of different characters and become a leader to his classmatesAntonio's spiritual maturity occurs in fast forward due to the tragic events he witnesses and the supernatural elements to which he is exposed

The Supernatural: CuranderasCurandera (spiritual healer)Uses herbs, spices, and homemade remedies to heal the sick and injured. The work of the curandera acknowledges the spiritual connections among plants, earth, people and dreams, weaving a tapestry of mystery and sacred magic that remains important to New Mexicans to this day.Poem!

The Supernatural: WitchesSell their souls to the devilPractice religious sacrificeCreate evil potions made with living thingsPerform hurtful magicShape-shifters and can become various animalsCannot walk past a cross and can be killed with a bullet marked with the sign of the cross.

Magical RealismFiction in which magical elements (fantastic or supernatural events) are blended into a realistic atmosphere These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences, in a straightforward manner, which allows the "real" and the "fantastic" to be accepted in the same stream of thought. The ordinary as miraculous and the miraculous as ordinaryCombination of physical reality & psychological reality

More about Magical RealismSetting is sometimes a vast, mysterious terrain (snow-capped mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, deserts, etc.)Usually contains a native influence; a blend of old, mystical culture with colonization & Christianity

How is this different from Fantasy?Remains grounded in the REAL world UNLIKE science fiction and other non-realistic genresStretches the definition of realism & realityNot so much a belief, but a lack of disbeliefPower lies not in answers, but in questions.

New Mexican Beliefs and FolkloreLa Llorona (a.k.a. the walking woman of the river)A beautiful woman bears 3 children, then discovers that her lover has not been faithful. In her shock and pain she kills her children so that he cannot take them from her.Her destiny: to wander the countryside at night, crying for her children (her crime is unforgivable so she will never find peace).Seeks to draw men's souls to her with her voice; people fear her yet are mesmerized by the sound of her wailing and crying.New Mexican Beliefs and Folklore, cont.The Virgin of GuadalupeIn 1531 a Christian Indian was walking near an Aztec shrine and heard music. A woman appeared speaking in an Aztec language Told him to visit the palace of the archbishop of Mexico at Tlatelolco and to tell him that the Virgin Mary wanted a shrine there. She then appeared a few more timesand the shrine was finally built.

Fish MythologyChristian ReferencesThe drawing of a fish is a common Christian signIt represents the Greek "Ichuthus", a word formed by the first letters of "Iesous Christos Theou Huious Sotor" (Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior). Fish live in water as Christians live by their baptisms.

Fish Mythology, cont. Egyptian ReferencesSome Egyptians believed that a fish swallowed part of Osiris, the Egyptian