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Word Count: 570
The religious and spiritual symbolism in Anayas book Bless Me Ultima blend beautifully with the powerfully described New Mexican setting and culture that surround the novels main character Antonio and place him at the center of a series of thematic struggles including the classic struggle of good vs evil the difficult decision of choosing between ones apparent destiny and giving in to ones choices and the intense discovery and formation of alternate beliefs in a higher being Anaya places Antonio in a Catholic household of Mexican descent in the rural setting of Las Pastures New Mexico Tonys mother is a faithful and passionate Catholic believing in the importance of direct prayer to God and the adoration of the Virgin Mary She sees and feels the holiness that surrounds Tonys being from his birth and raises him in hopes that he will some day become a priest The characterization of Tonys father provides a nice contrast that lends an insight into the formation of Tony His father is a man of the land using it respectfully and living in symbiance with it to ensure the healthy lifespans of both his family and his familys land or llano The contrast in Tonys parental upbringing sets the stage for his future conflicts concerning the true existence of a God and the reasons for the existence of good and evil that he witnesses in life Symbolism is a central tool that Anaya uses to artistically convey Tonys journey and his discoveries amazements and disappointments along the way Perhaps most finely crafted is Anayas creation of the golden carp used to represent the startling effect of peace and joy that Tony feels after discovering its existence The golden carp itself is a symbol of an alternate idol of worship besides the Christian God that Tony had grown to believe in through the teachings he receives at home school and at church The fact that Tony is willing to believe in
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