Character Analysis: Bless Me, Ultima

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In this world, two sides to every story always exist; the in-group constantly battles the out-group. Prejudices arise and create conflict time after time. In Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima, Antonio Marez’s life drastically changes when Ultima arrives to live with his family. The older woman harnesses magical healing powers as a curandera, but many of the townspeople see her as a bruja, a horrible witch. In their remote New Mexican village, insiders stick together and gang up against the weak and diverse, the same way strong women have faced persecution, the US government removed thousands of Japanese-Americans, and as Senator McCarthy and his followers scoured for Communists. Cico offers insight, revealing, “people… seem to want to hurt each…show more content…
She is stronger than others, so others fear her for it. Antonio questions her wisdom and success, “The power of the doctors and the power of the church had failed to cure my uncle… Was it possible that there was more power in Ultima’s magic than in the priest?” (103). Community members ostracize the woman for being different, yet beg for her healing techniques when loved ones teeter the line between life and death. They cannot live with her, but cannot survive without her. Joan of Arc reflects the qualities of Ultima; the French celebrated her while the English burned her at the stake. After the teen helped France to beat the English, the losers, “could not understand how they had been defeated by a mere girl… [and tried] Joan for… sorcery, heresy, and witchcraft” (Famous cases: the trial of Joan of Arc). When people, especially men, face failure at the hands of a woman, they tend to lash out and become enraged. An innocent French child burned to death simply because she fought her foes well. Ultima withers away because a fanatic demanding her demise cannot accept his own daughters’ wrongdoings. Tenorio often possesses liquid courage and the strength in numbers, but that does not equate to Ultima practicing evil magic. Both Ultima and Joan of Arc shatter others’ expectations of what is possible, placing targets on their backs. They inhabit the out-group only because the in-group fears their power and declares them as
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