It's nice to think that FDR nailed it in his inaugural address when he said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. It's a strong statement and one of the great presidential lines ever spoken. But is it true in the real world? Is it true in Bless Me, Ultima? In the book, it seems that people aren't just afraid of the idea of fear or fear itself, but they are afraid of that which they can't explain. Power that goes beyond their understanding frightens them. This, not too surprisingly, often causes them to suspect, distrust, and lash out against the thing they do not understand, like, say, Ultima herself.
Fear's what keeps Antonio alive. Without a healthy dose of fear, Antonio would have been closer to Narciso when the shots were fired, and might have kicked the bucket himself.
We are meant to fear Ultima as much as we respect her.