Study Guide

Bless Me, Ultima Identity

By Rudolfo Anaya

Identity

Gabriel, they shouted, you have a fine son! He will make a fine Vaquero! (1.70)

Anaya wastes no time showing that Antonio's father's family put their claim on Antonio from the moment he was born. He does the same for the Luna just a few lines later. This is one of the major struggles that dominates Antonio's life.

Mother of God, make my fourth son a priest. (4.217)

This is from another dream in which Antonio sees his destiny laid out before him by someone else. How does Anaya use Antonio's dreams to help define Antonio as a character throughout the novel?

"In that one there is hope," I heard my uncle Juan say to mother. I knew he talked about me. (5.124-125)

Sheesh, talk about pressure. It's not just that certain people want him to do certain things; it's that they see him as a hope to secure the future of their people. That's a lot to deal with when you're still worrying about stuff like passing first or second grade.

It was true, I thought, it is the Márez blood in us that touches us with this urge to wander. Like the restless, seeking sea. (8.50-51)

Identity not only holds sway over destiny, it also holds sway over actions, too. Being Márez is what causes Antonio's brothers to head out into the world and leave their family behind.

"How will you get ahead?" I asked. "Will you become a farmer?" (9.132-133)

Antonio asks this of Andrew. He goes on to ask Andrew if he will become a farmer. A farmer and a priest are what Antonio's mother wants for Antonio. This is the boy's attempt to find a shared identity with his older brother.

And what is it about my innocent Luna blood that will help lift the curse from my uncle? (10.290-292)

Because of who he is and because of his name, Antonio serves to help his uncle survive the witches' curse. Antonio doesn't understand why this is true, but it is true, and that's pretty much all there is to it.

"Antonio has worked well […]. He has the feel of the earth in his blood." (13.222-223)

Once again, Antonio's blood links him to the Luna, his mother' s people, but this time around, his identity also links him to the natural world. This is a lesson that Antonio comes to learn throughout Bless Me, Ultima—man shares a connection with all that is around him, whether it is other people, nature, or the supernatural. And that goes for all men—not just the Lunas.

"You have to choose, Antonio," Cico said, "you have to choose between the god of the church, or the beauty that is here and now." (21.41-43)

Cico doesn't mess around. He just lays it out there for Antonio. But does Antonio have to choose between one or the other to form his own identity? Does accepting more the one answer actually go on to define who Antonio is as a person?

"Understanding comes with life." (22.194)

Antonio's father might not be the most talkative guy, but when he finally gets around to doing it, he drops some gems on his youngest son. Antonio so badly wants all of the answers so he can figure out who he is, but as his dad points out with that simple little line, one has to live life before he can understand. In essence, one has to live life before he can truly know who he is. This sentiment is echoed in Ultima's final blessing of Antonio when she says, "Always have the strength to live" (22.659). Good tip, Ultima.

"I am Márez." (22.278)

Boom. Antonio's first real assertion of what blood truly courses through his veins. Of course, after spending the summer with his uncles, he'll realize that he can be both Márez and Luna, but at this moment, the kid who questions everything and weighs all of the possible outcomes finally just makes a bold claim. It's a rare moment, so drink it in.