Ramon Saldivar does an extensive study of Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima, and as well as Shirley and Shirley, he seems to be afraid of calling or recognizing a representation of a border culture. Much good in this novel, beauty, magic, New Mexico landscape, legends... All of this is true, but there is more that they did not mention. Each of the story lines of thought of Antonio represents not only a personal conflict, but also a social one. Inner fights and double realities are present through out Antonio's development. Gabriel never gets accustomed to the life in the city. In the same way, Antonio goes to school, He does not understand English, and therefore does not understand the kids in the school.
Due to these series of facts, Antonio lives a struggle in his mind.
Only one of them decides to stay, but not for long.
On one hand, we have the Mexican traditional life style: Antonio's father was a men of the llano, a vaquero; his mother is from a family of free farmers.
Saldivar says: Bless Me, Ultima thus can be said to capture in the form of romance critical and complex transition period in literary-cultural history of the South west: the simultaneous existence within Chicano communities of pre-Columbian myths, beliefs, legends and superstitions, and mid-twentieth century technological, literate mass media culture. As I mention before, Bless Me Ultima presents the struggle between two different life styles and cultures.
Carl and Paula Shirley condense their presentation of Bless Me, Ultima by simply mentioning the story line of the book: She (Ultima) is present from the boy's earliest experiences growing up, family conflict, school, religion, evil and death... (Tom Miller, xii) In the same way, Anaya's description of Antonio's life represents ironies and contradictions, first in a main cultural collision of Mexican and Anglo culture, family structure and language; and then, in more deep levels of religion, and basic understanding of oneself.
It is even hard to find where the changes in his behavior take place, due to Rudolfo's smooth literary transitions. Tom Miller says that: Ironies and contradictions thrive on the border between the US and Mexico, a region that does not adhere to the economic, ethical, political, or cultural standards of either country (...) It is a third country of its own, its own food, its language, its music (...) It is a colony onto itself, long and narrow, ruled by two faraway powers. Language and relationships are also another important part on Antonio's culture construction. Furthermore, it was even more shocking that those new light kids were speaking in Spanish. He believes that God is just and omnipotent, but he also sees how innocent men die, and their murderers get free. Now, the difference between Antonio and his father culture collision is that Antonio gets accustomed to it. A sense of mutual bondage, due to cultural differences makes this group of kids to stick together and question life on their own. He mentions that some of them were tall with clear eyes and blond hair. His mother wants him to become a priest as one of her ancestors was, but Antonio is battling a struggle of his own. Also, one of his best friends tells him the legend of the Carpa, a God who decided to become a fish to save his people, but who will let the town sink on their own sins. Different episodes of the book make him question his traditional faith. Moreover, the most important person in Antonio during these years, and probably for the future is La Grande. The contact that they have with each other is more on the spiritual level: the old and the new creating a new form of relationship. Each person on the novel plays and important part on Antonio's life and struggle to find the true meaning of life and himself. There is a two level explanation for this chapter: first, we have to remember that Antonio's father Gabriel was a men of the llano, a vaquero who thought that freedom is the most important thing in anyone's life. Toward a promised land: La frontera as a myth and reality in ballad and song. This is one of the most important aspects of his cultural development as well as our main point in identifying a border culture. Should he decide his own future no matter what the consequences are? Should he become a farmer or a priest as his mother wanted? During the beginning of the book, his thoughts and actions are typical of such age, but as the events take place, Antonio changes and matures incredible fast through the text. The development if the Mexican border culture is called to be a mixture of two worlds. Antonio, a seven year old child, narrates in first person, and describes the events that changed his life from the moment that Ultima arrived at his house. For a better understanding of my analysis I have defined several different components that present essential keys in the underlined development of a border culture.