Bless Me, Ultima

Antonio's Syncretism Through Education in Bless Me Ultima

In 1519, when the Spanish conquistadors landed in North America, they were surprised to discover that natives already inhabited the land. These indigenous people had different beliefs from the Spaniards, so the Spanish proceeded to teach these people to be “civilized”. As the indigenous people began to learn the Spanish ways of life, they blended their beliefs with those of the Spaniards to create syncretism, which continued through the ages. In Bless Me Ultima (1972), Anaya shows how the two worlds collide and settle themselves on common ground in Antonio. Different people in the novel come to represent the different sides of the Spanish colonization of Mexico: Antonio’s father, the Spaniards; Antonio’s mother, the indigenous people; and Ultima, the embodiment of all beliefs. These people, as well as others, help Antonio learn to be a man and teach him to accept all aspects of his life as one. In Bless Me Ultima, Antonio learns syncretism by blending various forms of education: familial, spiritual and Ultima’s.

Antonio’s familial education is fraught with the two opposing symbols of Spanish colonization, his mother’s family, the Lunas, and his father’s family, the Marez. The Lunas represent the indigenous people, tied to the...

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