Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima: A Psychological Critique of Religions

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Christianity, Judaism, Islam. These are only a few of the many religions in this world. How does one choose which religion to follow? Is it their background, nationality, belief, or because that’s the only thing they have always known or come in contact with? The concept of religion is a complex one, a concept to be investigated and questioned. This is the journey that Antonio Marex Luna explores in Rudolfo Anaya’s (1972) Chicano novel Bless Me, Ultima. Throughout the novel, Antonio fights a psychological war in his mind about all the religions and faiths that surround him in his everyday routine. All his life he was raised to believe in God, and as a result he grew to be a devote Catholic. However, some of his beliefs alter when …show more content…
Although he puts much hope and belief into the Catholic faith, he feels as though he can not directly communicate with God, nor receive the answers to his questions. In hope of communicating with God, Antonio attends catechism lessons taught by the village Priest. On the day of his first communion, Antonio accepts the host while praying and asking God for answers to his questions: ‘God! Why did Lupito die? Why do you allow the evil of the Trementinas [bruja sisters]? Why did you allow Narciso to be murdered when he was doing good?’...A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice with me did not answer...The mass was ending, the fleeting mystery was already vanishing. (Anaya 221)

This is a turning point for Antonio because all of his hopes and anticipation of knowing the answers are dissolved and he is left with nothing. This is when he relies most on Ultima’s great wisdom: “Ultima was a practitioner of ancient religion of the earth, curing people with medicine,” (Sparknotes) and performing exorcisms on villagers’ homes. Ultima and her ways led Antonio’s beliefs and faith in a separate direction from that of the Catholic Church. Ultima was a curandera: she believed in curanderismo which consists of “a set of folk medical beliefs, rituals, and practices that seem to address the psychological, spiritual, and social needs of a traditional people.” (Stockel 86) Her curing with herbs
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