This is an hopelessly corny observation, but much of the natural imagery in Bless Me, Ultima has an almost Pocahontas like quality to its understanding of the earth. I was continually reminded of the lyrics in the Disney song, “Colors of the Wind” during our reading:
“But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name...
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?”
Through Ultima, Antonio will learn to sing with all the voices of the mountain, to paint with all the colors of the wind. Ultima teaches him to “listen to the mystery of the groaning earth and to feel complete in the fulfillment of its time” (16). Ultima’s connection to the earth and its inhabitants extends far beyond what Antonio’s parents can fathom. For the Marez, the land is something to be free from; for the Luna, it is a something to harvest, to respect as an intrinsic part of their culture and traditions. It is only Ultima who sees the earth as its own entity, who can talk to its plants and understand its ways as a feeling body.
While his father is wild, a Marez, a man of the sea and the ocean, it is the river that best suits Antonio’s and Ultima’s introspective natures. Antonio had been afraid of “the awful presence of the river, which was the soul of the river, but through her [he learns] that [his] spirit shared in the spirit of all things” (16). The river is symbolic not only because of its baptismal properties (Lupito is soaked through by “the holy water of the river” as he dies), but its flow is also representative of the earth energy that Antonio must learn to harness in order to let his spirit truly take flight (24).