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Changes in Faith and the Coming of Age Essay

In “Bless Me Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya, Ultima represents the benevolent guide for Toni, in “Night” by Elie Wiesel, God serves as Elie’s benevolent guide. Both of these guides serve to help Toni and Elie decide where they stand in terms of their faith and religion and come to age in the process.

In “Bless Me Ultima” Toni starts out firmly believing in God as taught so vehemently by his own mother, Elie also starts out by having faith, even more so than Toni as is shown by his admiration, even adoration of Moshe the Beathe and when he says “ Why did I pray?-Why did I live? Why did I breathe?”. Both Toni and Elie believe what they have been taught too believe but Elie believes even more whole-heartedly than Toni which is why his seperation from God is much more brutal and sudden than Toni’s own seperation. Both boys are on the brink of being thrown into turnmoil and hardships that their fragile minds, bodies and beliefs are not ready for.

When Ultima first comes to live with Toni and his family, Toni is intimidated by her precense but quickly warms up to her and in the process begins to witness and experience a side of spiritualism he never knew existed. Elie’s faith does not change but rather begins to dissipate throughout the novel due to his experiences as does Toni’s faith in God.Ultima serves as Toni’s protector, guide, and nurturer as does the figure and belief in God for Elie. The death of Lupito plants the seed of doubt in God in Toni’s mind as does the death of the pipel in Elie’s mind. None of these events succeed in shattering their faiths but it suceeds in managing to make them question their faith.

With Narcisso and Florence’s death comes the further loss of faith in God for Toni and the further witnessing of pain, death, and cruelty makes Elie alternate between belief and disbelief in his once precious God. Both Toni and Elie are let down by their own God’s silence. Toni says “ There was nothing, only silence” when he is in the confessional waiting for a reply from God and Elie says “Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe chose to be silent, what was there to thank him for?” when everybody else is praying to God.

The constant days and nights full of terror, fear, torture, and the desolation that came with the death of his father finally broke Elie and his faith in God if even for a moment. Elie says “Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.” The same happens to Toni due to the deaths he has been witness to and especially the death of Ultima. In the book Toni says “ Everything I believed in was destroyed. A painful, wrenching in my heart made me cry aloud, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. The difference between Toni and Elie was that Toni’s benevolent guide who was Ultima gave him the ability to regain faith even if it was not towards God himself. Elie’s benevolent guide was God himself so when his faith was shattered he had no other place to direct his faith towards.

At the end of the novel Toni manages to hold on to a form of faith prompted by others that could not have been managed without the influence of Ultima and Eli begins to regain faith in God himself even through his ordeals due to the unwavering faith he had in God in the beginning. Both characters learn that only through experiences and hardships can innocence be lost and maturity be gained as shown when Toni says “The tragic consequences of life can be overcome by strenght that resides in the human heart.”, and when Elie says “ There are victories of the soul and spirit, sometimes even if you lose, you win.” Ultima and God, the symbolic benevolent spirits of both of these characters helped them decide what they believe in in the form of faith and come of age through this process.

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