L.h.'s Reviews > Bless Me, Ultima

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
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's review
Mar 10, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: coursebooks, eco-books, fiction-and-literature

"From my mother I had learned that man is of the earth, that his clay feet are part of the ground that nourishes him, and that this is the inextricable mixture that gives man his measure of safety and security. Because man plants in the earth he believes in the miracle of birth, and he provides a home for his family, and he builds a church to preserve his faith and the soul that is bound to his flesh, his clay. But from my father and Ultima I had learned that the greater immortality is in the freedom of man, and that freedom is best nourished by the noble experience of land and air and pure, white sky."

Unlike most fiction I've read, Anaya is very didactic and clear in his revelations: thus is thus and it is good. But the message he writes is good, I think, and follows the environmentalist ethics surprisingly closely. As demonstrated by the above quotation, Anaya's approach to the earth is as an inclusive, ecosystem-based approach, with emphasis on the inclusion of humanity as natural element. However, Anaya clearly believes in the value of wilderness, separate from and perhaps above civilized communion with the land through farming and religion. Wilderness, "the noble expanse," is what fuels imagination, and sparks spirituality outside the confines of the eternally hovering threat of personal damnation. This wild inspiration, it seems, is what allows humans to look outside of their own selfish lives and share true communion with the world around them, as Ultima does. Both civilization and wilderness are necessary, each supporting and enriching the other, the way both the Lunas and the Marez are necessary to come together to create and raise Antonio, the culminating element and hero of the novel.
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