How Anaya Develops Antonio's Character
Novels trace the development of characters who encounter a series of challenges. Most characters contain a complex balance of virtues and vices. Internal and external forces require characters to question themselves, overcome fears, or reconsider dreams. The protagonist may undergo profound change. A close study of character development maps, in each character, the evolution of motivation, personality, and belief. The tension between a character’s strengths and weaknesses keeps the reader guessing about what might happen next and the protagonist’s eventual success or failure.
Bless Me, Ultima begins with Antonio wondering what he will become, after he dreams about his birth and the fight over his future. The hopes that others have for him send him rushing out of the house: “I felt a cool sweat on my forehead and I knew I had to run, I had to clear my mind of the dream.... The white sun and the fresh air cleansed me” (pp. 9–10). We, too, wonder what will become of Antonio as we read the novel, and the plot of this book is the story of his character’s evolution.
Graphic Organizer - Re-create the graphic organizer below in your notebook for each of the three following characters.
Chapter Catorce highlights Antonio’s place among various men in the novel. Discuss how his relationship to these three characters changes in this chapter, record your insights on the graphic organizer you copied:
Has Andrew become an antagonist for Antonio at this point? How does Andrew fail Antonio, or stand in his way, at a moment of crisis?
How does our perception of Narciso change in this chapter? How does his death affect Antonio? What kind of hero has Narciso become?
Tenorio has become a much more prominent antagonist in the novel. Why is he so driven by his vow of revenge? What causes him to suffer? Are there any parallels between Tenorio’s and Antonio’s grief, or do they suffer for different reasons?
Return to Ultima’s earlier assertion that “the ways of men are strange, and hard to learn.” Write a paragraph that looks back at this question from the end of Chapter Catorce. What has Antonio learned since the beginning of the novel? Are any of the ways of men becoming less confusing to him? Are any becoming more confusing?
Understanding the Religious Aspects of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans
Write two paragraphs reflecting on what you believe the "first holy communion" meant to Antonio. Base it on what you learn from the following websites linked below as well as the reading from Bless Me, Ultima.
Ms. Carrasco-Villalpando's Mini-Bio
I was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico to Carmen Yanez and Antonio Carrasco. A short two years later, I became a Californian. My mother's first stop was in Salinas, California where her mother, my grandmother Abelia Aguirre Padilla lived. My mother's younger sister, Yolanda, married a migrant farmworker, Rogelio Coronel, and a whole tribe of Yanezes moved to Oxnard, California.