Many parts of the book, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, deal with initiation into an adult world and mental growth. Growing mentally may not be pleasant, because of some of the events that cause people to grow a little more, mentally, can be deaths or other painful events. As Antonio MarÃÂ©z, the main character, enters the adult world, his soul is growing in leaps, lulls and bounds, encouraged and pained by things he sees and hears.
In Antonio's life, some initiations and mental growth is obvious and on purpose. "My heart sank..." (7). Antonio is facing his first day of school, and growing mentally by a new experience. Antonio is understandably scared of his first day of school, nearly every kid on earth is afraid to go to school for the first time. "Sometimes, after school..." (187). Antonio tries to prematurely shove his way into an adult world.
Antonio has an understandable want of knowledge. To be in the dark about life can be scary. "I made the..." (216). Antonio, by way of the Catholic church, has entered the adult world a little more. Antonio hopes that his first communion will give him the understanding he craves. Mental growth can obviously be on purpose, but what most people do not realize is that it can be accidental, too.
By witnessing deaths, Antonio is unconsciously growing mentally. "Many shots found..." (22). One cannot witness a killing of a man or dying of a friend and fully remain a child in mind and spirit. It is kind of surprising that Antonio followed the men when he knew they were planning to kill Lupito, and then was horrified that the men were able to kill Lupito. "Then a moan from..." (169). Tenario shoots Narcisso and Antonio watches Narcisso die as he prays an Act of Contrition to save Narcisso's soul from forever wandering the earth or burning in hell. Antonio grows some as he watches his friend die, as he did when he watched Lupito die. "...he's dead for sure..." (240). Antonio goes with Cico to tell Florence about the Golden Carp so he will have some beliefs. When they get to where Florence and his friends were swimming, Antonio and Cico find that Florence has drowned. Antonio seems to see many people die, especially for a kid. It must be hard on him, emotionally, to see his friend and others die. Mental growth, purposely and accidentally, is a part of growing up.
Losing innocence is a part of growing up for all cultures. "But innocence is..." (71). In Antonio's community, one cannot become an adult until they have lost innocence and given confession. Losing innocence is inevitable, it is a part of growing up. "It does not destroy," (31). According to Antonio's father, everything one sees and does makes one more of an adult. Experiencing life is a part of the inevitable loss of innocence. "Understanding comes with life," (248). Antonio's father speaks the truth when Antonio expresses his concern for lack of understanding after his first communion. Antonio's father is wise in voicing his feelings to set Antonio's fears at rest.
As you can see, Antonio grows throughout the book by things he sees or does. Every person in the world who makes the transition into the adult world knows that though many of the events in Antonio's life do not usually happen, the transition can be painful or upsetting. Some people may have a harder transition than Antonio and some may have an easier transition. Antonio and others with a harder transition may make the change sooner than the people who have an easier transition, but everyone gets there eventually. Antonio, along with the rest of us, is pushing his way into the adult world, and unconsciously finding mental growth the key.