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Westport, Conn. Anaya, Rudolfo A. Criticism and interpretation. Anaya, Rudolfo Criticism and interpretation. Mexican Americans in literature. New Mexico In literature. New Mexico.

Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me Ultima Essay

A few weeks later, Miguel mysteriously disappeared. Since then, men who have been out drinking or cheating on their wives have also disappeared, all having last been seen following a mysterious woman through the winding streets of the dark city. Linda grew up in a tough part of town. She had learned from a tender age to use what she had to get what she wanted. A single mother, she worked as a waitress and was growing tired of her dead-end life. On one of her evening shifts, she met Alejandro, a sexy man with a decent job who was an easy target.

Linda knew how to please men and easily seduced him. She soon brought up the idea of getting married. Alejandro told her he couldn't marry her because there were prying eyes. Since Alejandro had always avoided being around Linda's baby she immediately thought her child was standing between her and a new life.

One week later her baby's body was found in the river. Shortly after the funeral, Linda again asked Alejandro about getting married -- now that she had "taken care of things. Linda started screaming like a crazed animal, grabbed a knife, stabbed Alejandro and then killed herself. To this day, children playing near the river hear her cries and run from her screams.

She was innocent, sincere and, above all, her father's pride and joy. When she was only fifteen, something unusual happened. No one had even suspected she was pregnant. Her parents - especially her father - felt disgraced and betrayed.

A shotgun wedding was the only solution. He carried the helpless bundle to a nearby river and threw him into the water. She ran out and saw her father heading back to the house. By the time she reached the river, it was too late--not only for the baby, but also for her. Blood was pouring out of her body. Shortly after her disappearance, people in the community started seeing apparitions of a young girl holding a baby, weeping beside the river.

These sightings continue to this day. But I never really gave much thought to more modern myths and legends. Each culture has its own stories and the same is true for each individual family.

Legends about great-grandparents who immigrated with just the clothes on their backs and no money in their pockets form the basis of family mythology. Knowing where your family comes from gives a person insight into their own motivations and views of themselves. Where did I come from? How did I get to the place where I am today. How did I become the person I am now?

NEA Big Read: Meet Rudolfo Anaya

It seems that Anaya used this novel not only as a coming-of-age story but as an exploration of who he is and how he might have been different if certain people had been in his life or not been in his life. Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but with all the parallels to his own life, it seems that Anaya is exploring the effects of legends, dreams, magic and religion on his own life.

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Was there a Curandera figure in my life? A wise healer whose advise and opinions were sought before any major move? How much of what I believe is real and true and how much is fiction, made up to scare, influence and mold impressionable minds into conformity? There was so much information out there that I could hardly decide what to enclude and what to leave out. Many of the articles that I found were relevant to Mexican American mythology but not directly related to the novel itself, but they make very interesting reading. Anaya: A Critical Companion.

The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature - Teaching Strategies

Baeza, Abelardo. Garcia, Rosie and Brenda Holmes. Portales, Patricia, M. Testa, Daniel. Applewhite, Steven. November Bruce-Novoa, Juan D. Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 23, Gale, Dennis, Philip A. Gish, Robert Franklin. Anaya: The Novel as Magic. Gonzalez-T, Cesar A. Anaya: Focus On Criticism. La Jolla: Lalo Press, Hispanic Literature Criticism, Gale, Focusing primarily on Anaya's first seven novels, this excellent overview also includes helpful commentary on his lengthy career and some of his lesser-known works. Olmos argues that Anaya's fiction has not only secured his place in Chicano literature but helped establish his reputation among mainstream contemporary American writers.

Rudolfo A. Anaya comments:

Like other texts in the Critical Companions series, the book is divided into three sections: a biographical sketch tracing Anaya's early days as a novelist and professor at the University of New Mexico to his more recent career as a writer of detective fiction; a chapter outlining Anaya's place in the larger context of Chicano literature; and an extensive analysis of Anaya's main fiction, beginning with Ultima , a coming-of-age story about a young boy finding strength and wisdom in a curandera , or healer, and concluding with Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert , which Olmos maintains "reflects the quest for truth that pervades all of Anaya's writings.

As with most studies of Anaya's work, Bless Me, Ultima receives the most critical praise. One "of very few Chicano 'best-sellers,'" the novel celebrates most of the themes that identify Anaya's best fiction-an appreciation for the land, especially New Mexico, for which Anaya "feels a spiritual bond"; indigenous myths, legends, and symbols that preserve Latino and Native American culture; bilingualism; and the constant search for knowledge.

While his next two novels, Heart of Aztlan and Tortuga , fail to measure up to Ultima, they express Anaya's "ongoing concerns" with spiritualism, cultural diversity, and community. Alburquerque , one of Anaya's more accessible novels, published in , introduces a minor character named Sonny Baca, who figures prominently in Zia Summer , Rio Grande Fall , and Shaman Winter , Anaya's detective novels, which represent a "dramatic shift in subject matter and style," but reflect many of the ideas in Anaya's other fiction, including "respect for the environment and traditional cultures.


Olmos's Critical Companion is a welcome addition to Anaya scholarship.