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Bless Me, Ultima

Bless Me, Ultima

3.9 207
by Rudolfo Anaya

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When a curandera comes to stay with a young boy, he tests the bonds that tie him to his culture and finds himself in the secrets of the past.


When a curandera comes to stay with a young boy, he tests the bonds that tie him to his culture and finds himself in the secrets of the past.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Besides winning the Premio Quinto Sol national Chicano literary award, this novel of a young boy in New Mexico in the 1940s has sold more than 300,000 copies in paperback since its 1973 debut. Here, however, the book gets the hardcover treatment, with a few illustrations added for color. LJ's reviewer asserted that ``the novel has warmth and feeling'' (LJ 2/1/73) and a place in all fiction collections, especially those serving Chicano populations.
From the Publisher
"One of the nation's foremost Chicano literary artists."—Denver Post

Product Details

T Q S Publications, Eclectic Chicano Literature
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.02(w) x 8.97(h) x 0.62(d)

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Bless Me Ultima (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 207 reviews.
theokester More than 1 year ago
I've intended to read Anaya since I read an excerpt of his work a couple of years back in a high level course about Spanish literature. We were discussing the genre of "magical realism." Bless Me, Ultima is an intriguing story told by a very interesting narrator, young Antonio Luna-Marez. The narrative style is smooth and clean. The story itself is compelling and thought provoking. My biggest "problem" with the book was that the 6-8 year old narrator felt a bit too old. I acknowledge that this is a case of a retrospective narrator looking back with a more mature eye. But still, its not distinguishable where the "mature" future narrator is superimposing his thoughts over those of his younger self. While I have met pensive and thoughtful 6 year olds who ask deep questions, I haven't met one that runs so deeply in such an intense and thorough thought process for a period of multiple years of self-discovery and exploration of life's heavier themes. Even then, Anaya's writing still is fresh and honest and I only found myself jarred a couple of times at the thought of Antonio's young age juxtaposed with his mature thoughts. The themes and plot of the story were well constructed and resulted in a well driven flow of the ~2 years of Antonio's life that we're exploring. The closely knit themes of family, religion, identity and purpose are presented to the reader as highly pressing themes that are bearing down on our narrator but without any imminent resolution. In fact, as time goes on, Antonio uncovers more questions and problems rather than finding new answers. Torn between his father's wild "wanderlust"-filled rancher family and his mother's grounded, earth-bound farming family, Antonio struggles to figure out how he can please each of his parents. This struggle is amplified by his mother's intense Catholicism and his father's free-spirit and Ultima's mysticism. Later in the book, yet another religious influence appears, closely related to Ultima's views, and yet still different. Antonio wants to honor his parents, to honor God, and to fulfill his destiny. Unfortunately, he is constantly conflicted when trying to honor one parent without disappointing the other and he is filled with more and more doubts the closer he gets to a possible understanding of God. His destiny seems to be constantly sliding away from him as he tries to unravel it. The ending of this book further exemplifies its genre of magical realism and while I can accept it for what it is, it left me a little unsettled. That's probably part of the purpose. This isn't a book that wants to answer life's deep questions for you. Rather, it wants to help you understand how to approach those questions and seek the answers on your own. This is a compelling and interesting look at one life caught between many alternating influences. Even if you don't live in a small farming/ranching pueblo in New Mexico, there is a good chance you can take some of the themes and questions from this book and apply them to your own life in some way. Everybody, in some form or another, has some sort of opposite influences pulling them in different directions each for good reasons and with great arguments. How we deal with those confusing moral conundrums is the core definition of our identity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i liked the book. it was challenging to read if you do not understand spanish. overall i recomend the book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the aspect of mystery and how it is told from the perspective of an innocent young boy who is forced to grow up as he witnesses and experiences life. Great symbolism and writing style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story book. If you're not Mexican American, it will be hard for you to relate to and understand this story. You have to have an OPEN mind to appreciate things that that are foreign to you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Bless Me, Ultima' is, overall, a good book. The descriptions of young Tony's dreams are vivid and beautiful, and this book contains loads of symbolism. However, its Roman Catholic characters believe almost grossly inaccurate theology. Since this book is based around religion, their 'bad' theology can be misleading and even angering at times. Also, this book does not really end, rather it comes to an abrupt stop. Despite this, it is still quite an intersting book, making it decent and worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story takes place in the 1940's in Guadalupe, New Mexico where a young boy named Antonio Marez is raised. He has a mental maturity far beyond his age and is always longing for truth. His family takes in a local elderly miracle worker named Ultima, and she builds a strong bond with Antonio as he takes on the many challenges of his life. He witnesses many injustices, murders, and the death of innocent people. He is also confused by conflicting beliefs such as his household Catholicism and witchcraft, and his parents both want different things for his future. As he encounters these dramatic situations, Ultima continually mentors him and encourages him to think for himself. This theme of individualistic thinking and beliefs is constantly being preached to Antonio as he struggles with the opposing beliefs. Antonio and Ultima continue to bond through various experiences together. One day they go to dispel ghosts from a house they believe were placed there by a man named Tenorio. After Ultima dispels the ghosts Tenorio¿s daughter becomes sick and Tenorio blames Ultima. Ultima sends Antonio to his uncle¿s farm to keep him safe where one day he is chased down by Tenorio. Antonio barely escapes alive, but Tenorio shoots Ultima¿s owl. The owl is a sole part of Ultima¿s being and Ultima soon dies. Through all his hardships Antonio is reminded by Ultima that he needs to take all of them into account and use them to form his beliefs. Personally, I enjoyed the way the book was written, and the theme of individualistic thinking, and it is hard to come up with criticism. If anything there was unnecessary detail Anaya could have left out. Overall, the book helped me see the big picture in my beliefs and that criticism should never keep me from sharing them. If you are looking for something inspirational in the spiritual sense, nothing beats Bless Me, Ultima.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. The themes in this book are something we can all relate too. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to discover more about culture and fokelore. Two thumbs up !
Lit_Lizard More than 1 year ago
Rudolfo Anaya’s, Bless Me, Ultima, is a novel exploring the impacts of many traumatic events forced upon the fragile mind of Antonio Marez. From death, betrayal, and violence, Antonio finds comfort in a curandera who makes her way to Antonio's small town on the llano.Working alongside Ultima, the curandera, he learns to make use of what he has. This novel explores the themes of, Coming of Age, Overcoming Obstacles, and Exploring New Ideas. As the story nears the climax, Antonio is forced to make risky decisions and witness questionable events that are capable of changing a person's outlook on life. Antonio grows more wise as he ages, and uses the knowledge to his advantage. As Antonio grows older he starts questioning his faith in God, which plays a major role in the development of the story. In conclusion, Bless Me, Ultima, is a rollercoaster of emotion that will intrigue readers with an interest in Latin culture and novels with a focus on a developing protagonist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few years ago on a recommendation...glad I bought it because I LOVED IT. Couldn't put it down, in fact I read it twice & it even inspired me to write a piece. The ending made me cry like a baby. Complex book, not for everyone, not all will grasp it's depth.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have read this year. It is suspenseful and funny. It kept me on the edge of my seat ever since I began reading it. It would have gotten four stars had it not been for the abundance of vulgar language used in it. Other than that it was awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a bit unsatisfied with this novel. I had never read anything from a Chicano author until this. It was an interesting view on Catholicism, though. I thought it was quite curious that the mother is a devout Catholic, and yet she houses a curendera. I am not familiar with Catholicism, but I would not think that this would be something completely 'right' in the eyes of the church. I was, however, enthralled with Anaya's incredible use of imagery. I could actually see what he was describing to me. I rarely see this anymore, so it was a breath of fresh air to see an author that actually knows how to use literary devices. I would recommend this book, but, if you are not familiar with espanol you may have a problem understanding parts of it. Most of the conversations between the family members are written in spanish, and it made it very interesting to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bless Me Ultima is a coming of age novel, wisely conducted by Rudolfo Anaya. This story not only includes the wonders of life, but also confusion that real people go through. Life, death and religion are all things that are represented in the protagonist’s life. Antonio Marez, an average 7 year old boy goes through many tough obstacles through his childhood. Ultima, a curandera, guides Antonio through the ups and downs on his rough journey to maturity. Antonio has to determine his place in life whether he becomes a priest or farmer, whatever he chooses will represent his life as well as the life of his family. The struggles of becoming a man in a world full of love and hate are all mentioned in this passage. Being young is almost as, or more challenging than being an adult because that is when you find your place in life. All the challenges that occurred in the book were not only obstacles, but life lessons. At such a young age Antonio knew what it meant to really be in pain and also to be really happy. This book gave some people the meaning of hope, religion, and all the obstacles we face as a child and as an adult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima was created with the genre for readers who want to read about the loss of innocence, and how it affects the characters of Bless Me Ultima. I do not really find this genre too relatable or interesting. The protagonist, Antonio Marez, must face much conflict within himself. Peer pressure affects Antonio throughout his life, whether or not he decides to follow through with his peers he will always have la Grande to help guide him. Or so it seems… I believe that this is a great idea for the plot of a book, but the way the plot is set doesn’t seem to interest me. Antonio must face the loss of many people in his life, and seeing through the eyes of a catholic he questions his God. In my opinion I think the idea of a seven year old going through so much loss and still being able to keep rolling along with the plot is very improbable, and overly used in the story. However I like the book being bilingual, it gave me more interest in the reading and also helped with some of the minor plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bless Me,Ultima Book Review In the Novel Bless Me, Ultima, a 7 year old Boy named Antonio and his family welcome a Old Woman named Ultima to stay with them for the rest of her days on the planet. They all live in New Mexico during World War ||. Ultima is a woman of Wisdom and medicine she helps the sick and lifts curses. Antonio is a small boy who helps Ultima along the way. To me this was an Excellent book to read it has both an adventure and a tragedy in the story. Some minor characters in the book is Tenorio a who seeks to kill Ultima, Narciso a town drunk the Rudolfo Anaya is the amazing author who wrote this book. He put an amazing amount of description into this novel. Rudolfo Anaya is Best known for this Book. It’s a very GOOD book, if you take it into consideration read this book. Thank You!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rudolfo Ayala made the book of Bless Me, Ultima. I like the book because it was full of wisdom and characters with a lot of experiences. It is almost full of knowledge when the reader reads the whole book. It has religious experience and almost some of the reasons or predictions are religious as well. It was exciting because it had a lot of action in some of the scenarios. At one point I found the book offensive because it had a lot of cursing in the book of kids who were from the farm. But keep in mind this story was from the 40’s, when there was slavery. It is also associated with death and I really don't like it how one kid can be in this type of scenarios in a novel. It had a lot of stuff that a kid cannot handle but also that it's only for men who can handle these types of scenarios. But it also had a lot of love in the book, a lot of words of wisdom that can help you in life. I really don't know how I feel about Bless Me, Ultima. It would depend on what the reader likes, if he likes violence or wisdom. But in this novel is both things, they gain wisdom with violence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is a novel about culture and religion. It is a book i recommended if you like themes like coming of age or like reading about how the past makes you who you are as an individual. It was not my favorite but it makes you question your own life decisions. Throughout the story you got to know a bit about Hispanic culture and the religion you believe in. It makes you question whether you always have to follow your parents morals and the careers they chose for you.
Daniel-Green More than 1 year ago
Bless Me, Ultima written by Rudolfo Anaya tells the story of a young boy named Antonio Marez. In this coming of age novel the reader follows Antonio as he grows and develops through his experiences, both good and bad. Being of Mexican American heritage Antonio has some troubles with school. Antonios greatest struggle of all is the conflict between his two very different families, he is often torn with the choice of being a Marez or Luna. Through his journey Antonio receives help from the wise curandera Ultima. Ultima gives Antonio much insight on the way of life. Bless Me, Ultima is a great story. It touches on many aspects of life. The story talks about the many struggles of growing up and making your own choices. This novel is a very cultural piece, and often has a lot of symbolic meaning. Overall Bless Me, Ultima is a great book and I definitely recommend you read it.
Michelle123 More than 1 year ago
In the noble Bless Me, Ultima, the main character is Antonio a six year old boy who overcomes many problems. As he learns from Ultima he becomes wiser as he grows up. As Ultima moves in with The Luna and Marez family, Antonio soon has a strong bond with Ultima. Antonio has many problems in his own little world that he has faced. Antonio’s family don’t face their problems but Antonio does because he’s learning how to become a man. Ultima has her ways of life and finding peace, she shows Antonio earth’s ways and how life works. Ultima is a lady who is aging very well but is soon gonna leave, she is a curandera. A curandera is a person who cures sickness, diseases, and other things. Narciso is a man who is always drunk but always helps the innocent people by warning them about things. From my point of view I liked this story because it was interesting how in the book it explains Antonio’s Mexican-American heritage. In the story it tells a lot about the Luna and Marez family of how they are different from each other.
BG145 More than 1 year ago
The main character in “ Bless Me Ultima “ is Antonio , He is bright and an independent young boy. He goes through so many problems that not even his own family has faced. Ultima is a very special unique lady in the book who has faced negativity and hate . Narciso was a labeled man who warned innocent people from danger. In my perspective i didn’t really like the book. Not that the book wasn’t good because there was many interesting scenes and plots but i didn’t really make a close connection. But it shows the struggle through one little boy’s life and as well as others in the book. It was a very eye catching book. It is a book that you have to pay very close attention because you never know when you might get caught off.
precious101 More than 1 year ago
Bless Me, Ultima is a good book to read, the story has many major characters and some of those characters pass away. I don't like how the characters pass away because of religious beliefs and because people hurt other people. The story is mainly about “coming of age” how one character named Antonio seeks to find his religious beliefs and what path he would like to follow either his mom’s or this dad’s ways of working. This is a really good book to read but it wasn't my favorite. I just don't like how the story ends and how it's plotted. I do recommend for people to read this book because some of us may have a different way of understanding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tho Bless Me Ultima has a sad ending but it is truly a beautiful piece. In this story we witness a young boy grow into a man and in his loss of innocence we learn he uses that loss into wisdom and maturity. The author has made the plot and the climax very suspenseful it will bring you to your feet. The protagonist (Antonio Marez Luna) struggles with his own moral independence. This story will make you think about how much we should care about the things in life and not take them for granted. We also can learn from this story that growing up isn't so easy and can be difficult especially leaving your childhood behind. The protagonist also goes through many trials and tribulations to gain the wisdom and maturity he has now. This novel will make you happy, sad, and even mad at the author. Bless Me Ultima is truly a masterpiece with beauty and wonder.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bless Me Ultima, is an amazing novel written by Rudolfo Anaya. One of the main themes in this literary piece is “Coming of Age”, is spread throughout, three years of Antonio’s life(6-9 years old). Ultima, as known as the bruja and curandera, the “witch and healer”. She punishes those who do wrong by cursing them with a spell, and within the next few days, they get sick and die. She also heals people from illnesses or curses by other witches or people. She also helped Maria when she was pregnant with each of her children. Ultima helped impact the shape of Antonio’s life by teaching him some of her wisdom and knowledge of the llano and much more. This books gives us numerous events in case Antonio learns the forces of good and evil and how they can impact one’s life. Especially when a tragic event takes place at the end of the story, is when Antonio finds his true self formation and learns the final impact of good and evil. Overall, this is an amazing book written with huge emotions and a good close connection between friends and family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Antonio Márez is a six year old boy who struggles to find himself and loses his innocence. Until Ultima, a cuanadura that heels with potions and magic, comes to stay with the family for her last days and teaches Antonio to make his own decisions. This novel is a page turner because it makes you question yourself and how your destiny will be decided. I read this novel in high school and the reason why I think it was most recommended for us is because we can relate to the narrator by learning that it is important to grow up to be something you want to be, not something others expect you to be. I recommend people to read this novel because it teaches an important life lesson to people that are still seeking to choose what is best for themselves. Growing up is a big part of life because you learn new things, start to mature, and of course, very life changing. Therefore, if you are interested in a book that you can relate to in the real world, this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rudolfo Anaya created the book Bless me, Ultima, with the type of genre that will intrigue certain readers who want to learn about how culture and religion which affect the certain natures and qualities of this book. For example, the protagonist Antonio Marez, is helped by a curandera , who not only cures the sick but protects and helps him understand the forces that evil can affect those you don’t suspect. Antonio’s future is one of the hardest decisions between choosing between his Marez and Luna blood which is what controls him more that what he believes. His attitude towards what his life goals is unexplainable considering that he has to deal with the greatness and foolishness of God himself. He also doesn’t understand how God and the Virgin Mary can forgive those who have sinned even after they have done evil just as a revenge method to satisfy their bloodlust. This book was interesting and i recommend this book to anyone who wants a good learning experience about Losing your Innocence and seeing what’s Good against Evil.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone at some point in life learns the way of growing up, becoming a matured person, and facing the reality life gives. Although, sometimes growing up isn’t all what we expected it to be. In this novel, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, a young 6 year old boy named Antonio Juan Marez Luna, learns the wisdom that grows between his past and future. After, Ultima a woman who is a magic healer, comes to live with Antonio and helps him look at the world in a different perspective. Antonio experiences many events in his life during his life as he sees the difference between good and evil. He has external and internal conflict within himself because through the book he begins to notice that growing up is not a choice. When a person experiences events in life most of the time it is good to learn from them because in the end life moves, even when sometimes facing the fact isn’t so good. Growing up is a part of life because there is a point in life where we have to learn the lessons that life gives. Antonio could not control the knowledge he gained, he was growing up and nothing was going to change that.