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With the Hooting of the Owl Essay

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“In the dark mist of my dreams I saw my brothers. The three dark figures silently beckoned me to follow them. They led me over the goat path, across the bridge, to the house of the sinful women. We walked across the well-worn path in silence. The door to Rosie’s house opened and…” (Anaya 70) This excerpt from the novel Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya, is one of the numerous dreams the protagonist Antonio Márez experiences. The story is set during World War II in Guadalupe, Mexico, a town rich with Mexican culture and overflowing with legends. Antonio attempts to discover his religion and family roots as he struggles to cope with school. When he witnesses four tragic deaths, Anaya vividly depicts the shattering of his innocence. Even with worry enveloping him, six-year-old Antonio manages to sleep with the calming hoots of Ultima’s owl. And he has magical dreams. Antonio’s dreams add to his characterization by providing readers with an insight into his mind, explaining his internal disharmony, and foreshadowing future events.
Antonio’s dream of Rosie’s house, a local brothel, reveals his conflicting thoughts in becoming a priest and forebodes the sinful ways of his brothers. From the beginning of the novel, there has always been a certain assumption that Antonio will become a priest and follow in the footsteps of his mother’s family. His mother, who is a continual source of guidance and support, relentlessly reminds him that his future lies in priesthood. “You will be like my brothers. You will be a Luna, Antonio. You will be a man of the people, and perhaps a priest” (9). Furthermore, when the family goes to visit El Puerto, the town of his mother’s relatives, Antonio is reminded again of this family duty. Uncle Juan comments...


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...erything I believed in was destroyed. [I cried], ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!’” (244) Thus, readers understand that Ultima’s death has the greatest impact on Antonio as she guided him through the pitfalls of his youth. Her death truly brings an end to the chapter of his childhood.
As an avenue to predict the future and gain insight into his mind, Antonio’s dreams provide more depth to his character. His dreams reveal his dilemma with priesthood, the sinful ways of his brothers, his struggles in coping with death. His dreams reveal the real Antonio, usually hidden behind the expectations of tomorrow. As Paracelsus wisely puts it, “That which the dream shows is the shadow of such wisdom as exists in man, even if during his waking state he may know nothing about it...We do not know it because we…are asleep in regard to that which is real within ourself.”


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