The underlying truth is that yet a young and innocent child commonly endeavors to achieve the dreams of their parents, and Antonio is no exception. In Bless Me, Ultima, parents of Antonio, a six-year-old boy, invite Ultima, a curandera, to live with them. During her stay, Ultima sees Antonio internally struggling to find his destiny since his parents each wants him to choose only his or her path. Due to this, Ultima constantly advises Antonio to prepare him in deciding his destiny as he grows up.
Throughout the novel, Rudolfo Anaya uses the juxtaposition between the unique characters in the Luna and Marez blood, thus indicating that a child’s identity is only chosen and found by the child, not his or her parents. Rudolfo Anaya differentiates the identities between Marez and Luna to delineate the two distinct families. Short after reflecting back on the misinterpreted dreams between Antonio and his mother, Antonio dreams of his birth, learning the dissimilarity between Luna and Marez, “This one will be a Luna… ill be a farmer and keep out customs and traditions… He is a Marez… His forefathers were conquistadores, men as restless as the seas they sailed and as free as the land they conquered” (Anaya 6). Both Luna and Marez families want their children to follow their ancestors’ steps, by having them be either farmers or adventurers. Since, the three older brothers of Antonio are already on their ways for being grown-ups, elders of Marez and Luna are focused firmly on Antonio’s future. Regardless of their ambitions, not one truly understands Antonio’s genuine fate.
As Antonio approaches the age to attend primary school, an interminable argument of parents’ autonomy builds up, “[mother said] ‘An education will make him a scholar, like… the old Luna priest…. [father said] ‘In my own days we were given no schooling. Me, my father gave me a saddle blanket and a wild pony when I was ten… This is your life” (Anaya 54). Under such alternating expectations of Maria Luna, Antonio’s mother, and Antonio’s father, Gabriel Marez, Antonio finds consciously pleasing them challenging.
Yet, everyone in the family including Antonio himself deems that only the blood line is able to determine Antonio’s future. Given these, the lives of Luna and Marez are contrasted through the literary device-juxtaposition. Further into the novel, the specific aspirations of Gabriel and Maria are compared and contrasted -although they are opposite traits, parallelism between two bloodlines is revealed. After the conversation between Antonio and his brother, Andrew, about their unknown future, Antonio gazes into deep thought, “… I wanted to be a good son, but the dreams of my mother were opposite the wishes of my father.
She wanted a priest to watch over the farmers of the valley; he wanted a son to travel with him to the vineyards of California” (Anaya 74). Maria and Gabriel insist on saying Antonio to achieve their antithetical wishes. Although Tony finds the task of gratifying his parents perplexing, being yet an innocent boy, Antonio puts his full efforts in pleasing his parents rather than attempting to find his own desire.
Further into the text, Anaya illustrates the internal conflicts that Antonio goes through by describing his dream, “She[my mother] smiled, we… he water of the moon… my father shouted… the salt water of the sea… [Ultima said] ‘The waters are one… great cycle that binds us all'” (120). Though Luna and Marez are symbolized as nearly opposite kinds, Ultima describes them to be same water. Through this words, Ultima is indirectly saying that there is no need for Antonio to follow just one certain path his parent wants. As the story continues on, Antonio begins to understand the words of Ultima on his identity but he still continuously describes the uncertainty of his future.
By the end of the novel, Antonio finally takes in the message of Ultima in finding his identity, no matter what Gabriel and Maria say. As Antonio converse with his 3rd grade teacher on growing up, he reflects onto one of Ultima’s word: “… a man’s destiny must unfold itself like a flower with only the sun and the earth and water making it blossom, and no one else meddling in it—”(Anaya 223). At this moment, Antonio seems to have fleeting flash-back, in which he starts to analyze the words of Ultima and understand what she intends to tell him. He now knows that his identity can only be chosen by himself.
On the way to El Puerto, Antonio realizes significance of his identity from a conversation with his father. “… every generation, every man is a part of his past. He cannot escape it, but he may reform the old materials, make something new—”(Anaya 247). It is not odd for Antonio’s parents to want Antonio to achieve the certain dreams, nevertheless, the final decision is only done by Antonio. Therefore, depending on his preference, he may choose to fuse the parents’ cultures, follow one, or go on his own way. As shown previously, despite the strong opinions of Gabriel and Maria, only Antonio can make it to his destiny.
To prove that a child’s destiny is only chosen and determined by the child no matter what others say, Rudolfo Anaya utilizes juxtaposition in Bless Me, Ultima. Antonio’s parents are distinctive from each other since Maria is from the Luna family of education and farming while Gabriel is from the Marez family of wondering blood. Due to this, Antonio struggles to choose his destiny that will please both of his parents. Later, Antonio realizes the final answer of Ultima’s lessons and steps toward his own destiny. “That is what Ultima meant by building strength from life”—”make something new” (Anaya 247).