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[ The House on Mango Street Bless Me, Ultima, ]
blazed a path within the Chicano literary tradition in the category referred to as "novels of identity" in which the main characters must redefine themselves within the larger society from the vantage point of their own distinct ethnicity. In identity novels the character is always aware of his or her cultural heritage (often questioning it as well) and attempts to forge some type of reconciliation with the larger society while maintaining a distinct identity. In the figure of Ultima in this context is crucial. As young Antonio's guide and mentor, her teachings not only bring him into contact with a mystical, primordial world but also with a culture—his own Hispanic/Indian culture—that he must learn to appreciate if he is ever to understand truly himself and his place within society.
Why did Anaya portray women (except Ultima) narrowly, relegated strictly to one side of the madonna/whore dichotomy? Any analysis of gender images in this novel should take into account that, most often, Mexican American women's lives have revolved around their roles as wives, mothers, homemakers, or as in the case of Tenorio's daughters, evildoers bent on destruction. Keeping in mind Mexican American women's traditional status, readers should appreciate, especially, Anaya's dynamic, empowered, and unconventional characterization of Ultima.
Bless Me Ultima Essay Topics | English IV
5. Some critics nevertheless elide these difficulties by simply assuming some connection between the familial struggle and the conflicting ethnic heritages that form Chicano identity. Thomas Vallejos, for example, moves seamlessly from the Márez-Luna clash to the "syncretic mestizo culture" of Chicanos (9). Enrique Lamadrid asserts that the family conflict is a "cultural" one on the grounds that the two families have different "cultures" (e.g., agricultural versus pastoral) and reads as a "dialectical exploration of the contradictions between lifestyles and cultures" (154), thus vaguely evoking the Chicano/Anglo (or perhaps Spanish/indigenous) context. Along the same lines, Paul Beekman Taylor asserts without textual explanation that the "blend of vaquero and farmer" in Anaya's is "a matrix for an Anglo-Chicano mestizo culture" (26).
2. See for example Jussawalla, who also discusses the teaching of and Dasenbrock, who treats as a given the idea that "Multicultural works of literature are multicultural […] in having multiculturalism as part of their subject matter and theme" (18). In their introduction, Maitino and Peck focus on the "stories of assimilation and resistance, of immigration and oppression" and the themes "of marginality, identity, [and] alienation" found in ethnic literature—in other words, on those stories and themes that are explicitly about the situation of being ethnic (4).
Essay on Good and Evil in Bless Me Ultima - 715 Words
One striking inheritor of the American tradition of "strangeness" is the remarkable phenomenon in contemporary Hispanic fiction labeled "magical realism." The term has been most often used in relation to the Latin American boom of Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, and others. Notorious disagreement exists, however, over its extent and meaning, making it difficult to use as a general category of analysis. It has been less frequently applied to the dominant literature of the United States, where, nonetheless, realistic writing has always shown a conspicuous tendency toward the magical and the romantic. Thus, Hawthorne and his contemporaries wrote a peculiar kind of realism that tries to reveal the mysteries of everyday reality. And even in the novel that represents the summit of American realism, there is a clear presence of the magical (for example, Jim's superstitions and the fear they inspire in Huck), besides a romantic and transcendental vein that permeates the text. In Twain's novel, moreover, frontier humor softens the violent and tense situations that abound in Huck and Jim's journey: a kind of humor characteristic of magical realism as practiced by García Márquez and others. We should also remember the great influence that William Faulkner has exerted on the writers of the Latin American boom, who in return have provided a literary model quite influential in contemporary American fiction.
The American experience involves a peculiar conception of land and self. Since the discovery of America as a result of Christopher Columbus's miscalculation, the New World has been tinged with the uncanny and the mysterious. Reports sent to Europe by conquistadores and colonizers of all kinds described a landscape where the fabulous and the real mingled together, a sort of mythological region where every wonder seemed possible. From the beginning, America has been subject to utter misrepresentation, both in the European mind and in the minds of all those adventurers who came to the shores of the New World and then pushed farther and farther into the wilderness in search of a chimera of success and regeneration. In the history of early America, contradictory discourses speak of epic deeds and deplorable failures, always in the guise of a Christian and civilizing mission, or a divine "errand into the wilderness." On the one hand, Hernán Cortés and his squalid battalion of fearless mercenaries conquer the fabulous empire of the Aztecs, backed by the devil-like power of horses and armor; on the other hand, Cabeza de Vaca rambles for ten years on the plains and deserts of the Southwest, the object of trade and abuse among Indians of numerous tribes, and becomes a shaman, or holy man, performing a number of obscure "miraculous healings." Radically different in their tone and content, the reports sent back to Charles I of Spain by Cortés and de Vaca articulate distorted perceptions of the reality they confronted. Yet Cortés's discourse of "mythification" and de Vaca's discourse of "demythification," or failure, coincide in projecting a vision of the New World as a region of wonders and mysteries. American writers of all regions have since developed an acute eye for the "strangeness" of our everyday world and the ambiguous texture of the reality we inhabit.
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Bless Me, Ultima Quotes by Rudolfo Anaya - Goodreads
There is an ancient system of knowledge that Ultima exercises that in this novel does not happen to be in the herbs she uses. Any anthropologist is aware that taxonomies such as those of ethnobotany actually contain the philosophical roots and perceptual conventions of the culture.12 However, herbs and related folk knowledge are not the ultimate focus of the novel, although it is understood that Ultima is intimately familiar with them. It is her role as a cultural mediator and Antonio's natural inclination towards a similar calling that link them to their real power, which is the ability to recognize and resolve the internal contradictions of their culture. These oppositions are clearly defined in both social and symbolic terms. The rivalry of the Lunas and the Márez, the struggle of good and evil, innocence and experience, Jehovah and the Golden Carp are not simply narra- tive devices. If they were, they would then be merely pretexts for a combination mystery story, morality play and Hatfield-McCoy saga with a New Mexican flavor.
Bless Me, Ultima is a coming-of ..
The disposal of the baby's umbilical cord and placenta was also a point of contention. The Lunas wanted it buried in their fields to add to their fertility and the Márez wanted it burned to scatter the ashes to the winds of the (plain). The intervention of Ultima to settle the feud illustrates her role of mediator and demonstrates the basic mechanism of myth. As in all cultures the thrust of mythical thought progresses from the awareness of oppositions towards their resolution.16 Thus we see the importance in the mythic process of the mediator, which in many cultures assumes the form of powerful tricksters like the coyote and the raven in Native American mythology. In both the and the boy serve as mediators between the oppositions within their culture. Their intermediary functions can be traced throughout the text.
Bless Me, Ultima for her students
Anaya explains the power of the as that of the human heart, but in fact demonstrates that it is derived from the knowledge of mythic thought processes, the awareness and resolution of contradictions within the culture. People turn to Ultima and Antonio at crucial moments in their lives because they are instinctively aware that mediators ( and tricksters) possess an overview or power of synthesis that can help them resolve their problems. The multiple episodes of Antonio playing the role of priest are especially significant in this light. It is his mother's and her family's dream for Antonio to become a Luna priest and man of knowledge. In fact he performs the role seriously, administering last rights to Lupito, a war-crazed murderer and Narciso, an ally of Ultima and Antonio's family. The blessings he bestows on his brothers and his friends are real and invested with a power they never fully realize as they taunt him. In his spiritual searching, Antonio discovers the contradictions in Christianity and realizes that the scope of his mediations would include the "pagan," animistic forces implicit in the very synthesis that he will be a part of: "Take the llano and the river valley, the moon and the sea, God and the golden carp—and make something new…. That is what Ultima meant by building strength from life" ( p. 236).
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