Antonio’s Ultimate Belief System And How Ultima Helps To Shape His Values-2289612

Antonio’s ultimate belief system and how Ultima helps to shape his values

Antonio is the son of Gabriel and Maria. He is torn between the catholic faith and the local spirituality. Her mother holds that his destiny to become a priest. He goes through the catholic teachings in the catechism where he learns many things about the catholic dogma. One thing that concerns him most is the art of forgiveness; that a person can sin in their entire life then are saved by a mere confession just a few seconds before death.  

What if I go to confession?”

“The your sins are forgiven, and your soul is clean and you are saved-”

“ You mean I can go out and sin, do bad things……… a million bad things and when I’m about to die I just go to confession and make communion, and I go to heaven-?”


(Anaya, 1972, p. 192)

Antonio is brought up in a catholic background. His mother is a devout catholic. He finds it difficult to acknowledge the fact that apart from God, many other gods exist. Antonio is eager to know many things that trouble his mind. He tries to find answers to the many questions lingering in his mind: the guilt that comes with sin, the fear of death, the loss of innocence, and the possibility of forgiveness in purgatory or punishment of hell and the many tragedies happening in life and God need answer all these. When he partakes his first Holy Communion and his questions are not answered, he is highly disappointed. “After Easter, I went to confession every Saturday, and on Sunday morning, I took communion, but I was not satisfied. The God I so eagerly sought was not there, and the understanding I thought to gain was not there.” (Anaya, 1972, p. 235) The priest fails to heal his uncle Lucas, but Ultima does. He then turns to a pagan ideology of the golden carp for guidance but still doubts. Ultima helps Antonio move from childhood to adolescence and starts to make his own choices and accept responsibility for their consequences. He eventually learns to integrate Ultima’s wise nuggets, his catholic faith and the local spiritual beliefs. This thesis aims to look at Antonio’s ultimate belief system and how Ultima helps shape his values.

Antonio’s destiny unfold’s itself like a flower. This is a nugget of wisdom from Ultima to Antonio. Amidst the destiny confusion; becoming a priest, farmer, a shepherd, Ultima knows that a person has no control over his destiny. What a person is destined to become will definitely unfold as they grow up and with time, they would realise that their struggles led them nowhere. “A man’s destiny must unfold itself like a flower, with only the sun and the earth and the water making it blossom, and no one else meddling in it-” ( Anaya, 1972, p. 223) This brings tranquillity in Antonio’s life, knowing that all things work together for good. He ultimately accepts, reconciles and integrates all the conflicting elements of his catholic faith and the priestly calling, the idea of being a farmer, Ultima’s healing and magical power and the existence of other gods.

Antonio has a priestly destiny. This is revealed in one of his dreams. His mother also believes that her son will become a priest when he grows up. The Luna’s have not produced a priest for a long time; his mother wanted to him become one. “Once, I told my mother about my dreams, and she said they were visions from God. She was happy because their dream was that I should grow up and become a priest.” (Anaya, 1972, p. 4). Growing up in a catholic set up, he is well acquainted about the tasks of a priest. Antonio eager to be of age and take the Holy Communion, and maybe the question of his destiny could be answered. This priestly destiny naturally manifests itself in his early years. Antonio leads three men in confession prayers at their death. He prays the Act of Final Contrition for Lupito, Narciso and Florence as he witnesses them dying.

There is forgiveness in confession of sins. In catechism, Antonio learns the art of forgiveness and the dangers of hell, a place of eternal damnation. A person dying with venial sins enters purgatory; a place for cleansing of souls before thy may enter heaven. Mortal sins guarantee eternal damnation. “Your brother has sinned with whores and so I condemn him to hell for eternity.” (Anaya, 1972, p. 173) Antonio would not allow sin take away his priestly destiny. This is evidenced when he warns his brother Andrew from fornicating with whores at the Rosie’s.

Violence and death are inevitable in life. Human life is surrounded by many tragedies. Antonio believes in what his father tells him, that “as a man grows, he sees life and death, he is happy and sad-” (Anaya, 1972, p. 248). From the death of Sherriff and Lupito, the death of Narciso, and the sickness of his uncle Lucas, which the priest of El Puerto was unable to purge. The quest of whether God would forgive Lupito for killing Sherriff by taking his soul to purgatory now that he was also killed before he made his confession, or he will go to hell directly. He wonders why and how God would leave a good man like Narciso to die. “I could not understand why Narciso, who did well in trying to help Ultima, lost his life.” (Anaya, 1972, 186). Initially, Antonio didn’t fathom why such a bad thing like death could take such a kind-hearted person. He later comes to understand that life has no sequence and anything can happen anytime and to anyone.

The existence of many indigenous gods. Antonio learns from Cico while at the Blue Lake that there are many indigenous gods but people have always gone subscribe to foreign ones. “There are gods of beauty and magic, gods of the garden, gods in our backyards-” (Anaya, 1972, p. 237). However, the church God is a jealous one. That is why people who go to church are always reminded to serve the Lord God, and him alone. This explanation by Cico clearly answer Antonio’s confusion on the possible existence of a new god-the golden carp. A time has come for us to embrace our indigenous gods instead of running to foreign ones.  

Not everyone believes in God. Antonio finally understands that people have the freedom to choose what to believe and what not to. Cico and Florence, his friends, do not believe in God. This does not and should not at any point interfere with their friendship. Faith is personal and people have reasons for what they believe in. Florence, for example does not understand why God who is believed to be good took his father and mother from him and made his sisters whores.  After meeting Samuel on the river bank, he finds it difficult accept Samuel’s strange story about the golden carp, yet he couldn’t disbelieve Samuel. “A new god? I could not believe the strange story, but I could not disbelieve Samuel.” (Anaya, 1972, p. 81). Cico takes him to the lake, where they witness the golden carp. Cico tells Antonio that not everyone sees the golden carp; it is considered a pagan god. Antonio sees the golden carp, meaning that he is one of the magical people in their place.” The golden carp is my god, Tony. He will rule the new waters. I will be happy to be with my God. It was unbelievable, and yet it made a wild kind of sense! All the pieces fitted!” (Anaya, 1972, p. 124)

Ultima teaches Antonio to love and care for the environment. Plants are useful and so they have to be handled with care. Ultima believes that plants have spirits and would gently speak to them before carefully taking them out of their original home for various purposes. “….even plants had a spirit and before I dug she made me speak to the plant…” (Anaya, 1972, p. 39) The herbs, for example, are used to make medicine for treatment of ailments. Osha herbs are used to cure coughs, colds, cuts and rheumatism and stomach troubles. It is also used to keep poisonous snakes away.

Antonio learns the art of sympathy from Ultima. Ultima la Grande visits Antonio’s family and brings with her the magic, open-minded views, and perspectives of a curandera- a traditional healer. Her work is to do what is good; showing sympathy to people by healing those who are suffering from sicknesses and showing them the path of goodness. There is a strong connection between Antonio and Ultima. He not only witnesses but also takes part in Ultima’s cure of his uncle Lucas, who was cursed by some brujas, the three daughters of Tenorio. “The power of the doctors and the power of the church had failed to cure my uncle. “Now, everyone depended on Ultima’s magic. Was it possible that there was more power in Ultima’s magic than the priest?” (Anaya, 1972, p. 103). In the benediction, Ultima blesses Antonio and urges him do good to all. He should not be like those brujas who create disharmony and destroy life. “It is because good is always stronger than evil. Always remember that, Antonio. The smallest bit of good can stand against all the powers of the evil in the world, and it will emerge triumphant.” (Anaya, 1972, p.98).

Ultima introduces Antonio to a folk-healing spiritual practice of a curandera. He accompanies the old woman to his maternal home to perform a healing ritual on his uncle Lucas who had been bewitched by some brujas, the three daughters of Tenorio. Antonio takes part in Ultima’s cure of his uncle Lucas. “I saw Ultima make some medicine for my uncle, and when she forced it down his throat and his face showed pain, my body too felt the pain.” (Anaya, 1972, p. 99).  More so, he witnesses Ultima lift a curse that was placed on family of Tellez and evil and strange things were happening on his farm. In both cases, the efforts of the priests fails to help but Ultima’s magic does. From this, Antonio learns that the work of a curandera was heal, bring peace and lift curses in the lives of people and not to harm as some people are used to saying.

Ultima shapes Antonio’s sense of empathy. When Antonio faints after returning to the house from the river where Lupito was murdered, she (Ultima) lifts him to his room then prepares some drugs for him to take. She also washes the cuts on his face and legs. “She prepared a new portion and this she washed the cuts on my face and feet.” (Anaya, 1972, p. 25).  This act melts Antonio’s heart and we see him later standing the ground and defending his friend Florence who was about to be stoned by fellow teenagers because of his unbelief.


Anaya, Rudolfo. “Uno.” Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless me – Ultima. Newyork: Warner Books Edition, 1972. 4.