Bless Me, Ultima 1. Conflict between the Mexican farmers and the Cowboys.
Antonio?s mother and father come from two very different backgrounds, which are seen in their last names: Marez and Luna. Marez is his fathers name and comes from the word for the sea. His people are vaqueros of the llano(the plain). While his mothers name comes from the word moon. These are two conflicting forces in nature, just as they are in Antonio?s life. His mothers side wants him to become a priest and a farmer, while his fathers side wants him to become a vaquero and to travel to California to establish a vineyard. This conflicts that are seen in his family are representitive of the entire ethnic group. The choice must be made to settle down or wander the land looking for new places. At the age of seven Antonio is forced to confront these conflicting emotions and attempt to pick which strand within his own ethnic group he should follow.
2. Conflict between Catholicism and the polytheism of the indigenous people.
Antonio?s mother Maria is a devout catholic who dreams that one day her son will become a priest. However, those like Ultima, Antonio?s grandmother, who are curandera?s believe in the healing power of the earth. This creates more conflict in Antonio because he wishes to please his mother and become a priest, yet he is still curious about the stories told by Samuel and Cico, about the various gods that rule the earth, such as the golden Carp. Also he has to consider that Ultima?s powers are greater than those of the priests.
3. The choice between assimilating into the white culture or maintaining the old culture.
When Antonio begins school he his fully emersed in the Mexican culture, and has had very little contact with white children. At first they are outkasts and are forced to form a gang or Mexican children. As Antonio grows older he and starts to learn English at the the request of both his teacher and his mother, race becomes less important to him. This conflict between languages influences Antonio?s ethnic identity because he must choose between assimilating into the white culture or the traditional Mexican culture.
4. Political factors that take the Mexicans away from their homes and families.
All of Antonio?s brothers are away at war which has a profound effect on his ethnic identity. His mother is worried about the possible death of her sons and the town is grieving the loses of sons and husbands to an American war. The war changes his brothers giving them little reason to stay home and maintain the ways of the Mexican culture. This tears at the family and creates tension between the elders and the younger generation who are becoming more Americanized.