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Contrasting Landscapes in Bless Me, Ultima

In: English and Literature

Submitted By austinmatheney
Words 1112
Pages 5
Austin Matheney
Professor Witschi
ENGL 2220
4th December 2014
Contrasting Landscapes in Bless Me, Ultima As the pages flip, and the story unfolds, the audience begins to notice that the landscapes in Bless Me, Ultima play a vital role in many different facets of the novel. Throughout the novel, there is an obvious dichotomy between the llano, the land of the main character’s father, and El Puerto de los Lunas, the land of the main character’s mother. As Antonio, who is the focus of the novel, grows older, he is forced to make a decision between the llano and the Luna. This decision is not based upon which land to dwell upon, but rather on which path Antonio should place his life: the dreams of his father or the dreams of his mother. Rudolfo Anaya, the author of the text, also utilizes other simple landscapes, such as the river and the pond, to aid in the coming of age of Antonio. Ultimately, Antonio must choose a path in life, and Anaya implements these different landscapes in order to exemplify Antonio’s struggle and development. The land of both Antonio’s father and of Antonio’s biggest inspiration, Ultima, is the llano; a beautiful landscape of rolling hills and dark plains. At first glance, this is all that the llano holds, but the llano is much more than just a beautiful piece of land to the vaqueros, to Ultima, and to Antonio’s father. The llano represents freedom and embodies the spirit of the vaqueros, or herdsmen, who are a group of people that Antonio’s father proudly identifies with. It is “only in that wide expanse of land and sky could [that] they [felt] the freedom their spirits needed” (Anaya 2). The llano gives back to the people, and provides, to those such as Ultima, gifts from the ground, which are utilized in many different fashions. It is whilst in the nature of the llano where Antonio sees that his biggest roll model, Ultima, feels most at home, and thus provides Antonio with the sense of belonging for which he so badly yearns. Antonio’s father, Gabriel, dreams of his son becoming a man of the llano and he himself longs to return to the vast, beautiful land. Pulling Antonio in an alternate direction is the village of Guadalupe and El Puerto de los Lunas, the land of his mother’s people. Quiet farmers who turn to the moon for guidance call El Puerto de los Lunas their home, and Antonio’s family moved here when he was a young boy. The land resembles that of a valley and within the valley lays the quaint town of Guadalupe. When Antonio was born, and his mother’s brothers were finally allowed to see the newest addition to their bloodline, an old man stated, “this one will be a Luna… he will be a farmer and keep our customs and traditions” (Anaya 5). Although this was said, Ultima, who was also present at Antonio’s birth, has the hopes that Antonio will become a man of learning and of nature. Rather than dreaming of Antonio becoming a farmer, Maria, Antonio’s mother, hopes that her son will grow to be a priest and dwell within the boundaries of El Puerto de los Luna, keeping her families traditions alive for yet another generation. This hope survived within Antonio’s mother throughout his childhood and fought against the hopes of his father, inevitably causing the struggles that plagued Antonio for much of his upbringing. Yet another landscape that played a vital role in Antonio’s coming of age is the river. In the early stages of the novel, Antonio sneaks out of his home and makes his way to the river where he witnesses the murder of a man named Lupito. A landscape that had once consisted of “holy water” (Anaya 22) was changed forever. While Antonio forever identifies the river with this terrible event, he views another body of water with quite the opposite attitude. The pond that Antonio frequents throughout the novel can be seen as a religious landscape that brings hope and comfort to Antonio. The dichotomy of these two landscapes in Antonio’s life, along with the dichotomy between the land of his father and the land of his mother, are both brilliantly utilized by Anaya to exemplify Antonio’s spiritual development. By placing these landscapes into the text, Rudolfo Anaya is able to portray the coming of age story of Antonio Marez in a premier fashion. Throughout the text, Antonio is not only struggling to find a path on which to place his life, but he is also struggling to find a sense of belonging. Implementing obvious dichotomies between the two major landscapes and between the two bodies of water, and by making all of these landscapes omnipresent throughout the novel, Anaya provides the reader with an astounding picture of the battle that is occurring within Antonio. He does not only utilize these two landscapes in order to paint this picture, but “Anaya incorporates…landscape[s] to define characters and scenes, to cause chaos and confusion, and ultimately to resolve conflicts and create spiritual unity” (Emerson 23-24). The symbolisms that the landscapes create throughout the novel are what allow Anaya to create the story of Antonio’s coming of age, and they do so in the foremost fashion. Hence, by placing these landscapes in Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya was able to portray the story and struggles of Antonio Marez in a premier manner. The llano, a wide open landscape consisting of rolling hills and black plains called for the young boy: to fulfill the dreams of his father, because it is the land of his role model, and because of the immense pressure bestowed upon him by his mother. The dreams of his mother consisted of Antonio becoming a priest and staying in El Puerto de los Lunas to continue the traditions of her people. If Antonio were to become a priest and keep the traditions of his mother’s people alive, he would be fulfilling a prophecy bestowed upon him at birth. Anaya places two major bodies of water within the text, and creates another dichotomy between them that plays a large role in Antonio’s spiritual development. By using these different landscapes as symbols, and creating contrasts between said landscapes, Rudolfo Anaya was able to create the story of a young man whose coming of age will be read for generations to come.

Anaya, Rudolfo. "Uno." Bless Me, Ultima. New York: Warner, 1994. Print.

Emerson, Gaile. LA FUERZA DE LA TIERRA: PHYSICAL AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPES I N RUDOLFO ANAYA'S BLESS ME, ULTIMA . 23-24. Print. <file:///Users/austinmatheney/Downloads/1993Emersonocr.pdf>.

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