The struggle to find one’s true identity is a recurring theme in the novels that we have read including Pocho,…And the Earth did not Devour Him, and Bless Me Ulitma. However, Bless Me Ultima differs from the others in that the protagonist, young Antonio, need not choose between assimilation to the American culture or his own Mexican heritage. Instead, he must make a choice between the two factions within his own blood – the Lunas and the Márez.
Throughout the novel, Antonio battles within himself and his family to find his true destiny. Will he be a Luna priest, satisfying his mother, or a Márez wanderer, emulating his father? The two sides of his spirit battle continuously during his young life, pulling at him until he questions everything, including his religious beliefs. Antonio’s encounter with the golden carp and his various doubts in God bring him to the culmination of his insecurities in his dream halfway through the novel. The choices lay distinctly before him: his mother or his father, a priest or a free-spirit, the moon or the sea, Catholicism or Paganism, and innocence or knowledge. Tormented by his divided self, it is not until Ultima offers an alternate solution that Antonio can rest peacefully. “The waters are one, Antonio,” she states calmly, showing that without the Lunas, there can be no Márez, and without the Márez, there can be no Lunas (113). Rudolfo A. Anaya uses the character of Ultima to reveal the true solution to Antonio’s predicament: the final answer is not to choose one or the other; it is the choice to choose to be both.In the end, the novel raises the question of destiny. How much of one’s future and choices are dictated by birth, fate, and chance, and is it a possibility to choose your own path? Though Anaya offers a different dilemma than Rivera or Villarreal, he stays true to Chicano/a literature by showing that a single, pure identity can be composed of many different selves.