In the book Bless Me, Ultima, Ultima is an old woman who was invited to stay at our protagonist house, Antonio, to live the remainder years of her life with the Marez family. But there is a controversy to who is Ultima, a witch or curandera? Ultima calls herself a curandera, someone who uses herbs and old customs to heal someone else, but some people in the book call her a bruja, which is Spanish for witch. Ultima is called a witch many times in the novel but neither denies nor accepts the accusation.
The Author of the book, Anaya Rudolfo leaves us with the question of who really was Ultima, a witch or curandera? In my opinion I believe that Ultima is a witch. Throughout the novel Ultima shows many characteristics of being a witch and in this essay I will show you how Ultima is a witch. First is the relationship between Ultima and the owl. In the book when Ultima moves in with the Marez family, an owl follows. The owl can be a symbol of witch and is even said so in the novel, “In many cuentos I had heard the owl was one of the disguises a bruja took…” (pg13).
Ultima has a very strong connection with the owl and is even said that the owl was Ultima’s soul or life force. An example of Ultima and the owl being the same person is at the end of the novel when Antonio buries the owl, “… and after mass we would take her body [Ultima] to the ceremony in las Pasturas for burial. But that would only be prescribed by custom. Ultima was really buried here. Tonight” (pg262). That quotation means that when Antonio buried the owl he was also burying Ultima because they shared souls. If Ultima has the soul of witch then she herself has to be evil.
Another evil connection between Ultima and the owl is when in page 134 of the book Ultima’s owl rips out Tenorio’s eye. If Ultima was really a curandera would she really hurt a man, when her duty of a curandera was to help and help people? Next are the acts of Ultima. Ultima shows many witch like personality when she was curing Lucas. First was that she had dolls of the three witches and she had used them like voodoo dolls, “…and when he breathed on them they seemed to squirm in her hands. I shuddered to see those clay dolls take life.
Then she took pins…she stuck a pin into each doll” (pg101). Here Ultima appears to do some evil voodoo ritual. A curandera relies on herbs and nature to heal people and not evil voodoo. Second is the fact that she cursed someone, “… and what you sought to do will undo you” (pg101). Here is where Ultima was removing the curse that was placed on Lucas, Antonio’s uncle. Ultima does not only remove the curse but sends it back to witches that cursed Lucas. If she was a curandera shouldn’t she have the intents to only heal Lucas instead of also cursing the witches too?
Last is the quote “You must understand that when anybody, bruja or curandera, priest r sinner, tampers with the fate of a man that sometimes a chain of events is sent into motion over which no one will have ultimate control. ” This happens and it leads to death of Tenorio’s daughter, enraging him, to kill Narciso. Ultima knew this and it ended up killing a man. Could this have been an evil plot by Ultima? Last is the source of Ultima’s powers. The idea of Ultima’s powers are brought up in page 93, “Toma, Tenorio shouted. He crossed his fingers and held the sign of the cross in front of Ultima’s face.
She did not budge…Either she was not a bruja, or their way of thinking, she had powers that belonged to the devil himself. ” It is possible for Ultima to have the powers of the devil because off all the past reasons listed. She has done evil for the reasons show before and now since she can take the cross you can see that she has powers stronger than a witch, or even powers “from the devil himself”. To further proof of her devil gifted powers you can see from this quote, “Would the magic of Ultima be stronger than all the powers of the saints and the holy mother church…” (pg97).
Here you can see that Ultima’s powers are not of the church and are stronger. Last is the ultimate test that was made in the book. Ultima was given the test to walk through a door that had the mark of a cross made by two blessed needles. She successfully goes through the door but with an exception. Everyone goes home thinking she is not a witch, but Antonio finds the needles on the ground. If the needles were on the ground then Ultima could have walked through the door with ease. Ultima could have sabotaged the needles when the idea of the test was first brought on.
Her knocking down the needles can prove her fear of God and everything holy, saying she is a witch. In conclusion you can see that Ultima is a witch. She has a spiritual connection with an animal that is said to be a witch, which is her owl. Ultima also has the soul of a witch. Ultima has practiced voodoo in the book along with cursing other people. Finally her powers are from the devil himself. Because of all the reasons stated I believe that Ultima is a witch in the story Bless Me, Ultima.