Voice and Ambivalence in Bless Me Ultima and Baby of the Family

Powerful Essays
Voice and Ambivalence in Bless Me Ultima and Baby of the Family

Bless Me Ultima and Baby of the Family serve as the 'coming of age' stories of two minority children. Rudolfo Anaya and Tina McElory Ansa skillfully reveal the richness, diversity, and conflicts that can exist within the Hispanic-American and African-American cultures primarily through the dream sequences in each novel. Dreams are the mechanism used in each work to magnify the individual experiences and conflicts Tony and Lena encounter. In addition and perhaps, more importantly, Tony and Lena deal with ambivalence and find their voices not only through the relationships with other characters, but through the resolution of their dreams.

To truly fathom how integral and dependent the dreams are in the novels, a few definitions are in order. Dreams are defined, not only as "images passing through a sleeping person's mind" (Neufeldt 132). Dreams also include the mystical events or dream-like occurrences within each novel. Dreams are a way for each character to connect to the past and, perhaps reveal the future. The otherworldly experiences or dreams of Tony and Lena help guide them down the road of ambivalence, and eventually lead to an awakening or the attainment of 'voice.'

Webster's New World Dictionary defines ambivalence as "simultaneous conflicting feelings" (13). These 'conflicts' can be seen in external situations, and typically have serious internal implications. This condition is one of the defining factors of the Hispanic-American experience. Are Hispanics immigrants or minorities? In terms of religion, are they Catholic or Indian? Typically, Hispanic- Americans blend the two choices because neither situation totally applies to them. Perh...

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... Once Lena and Tony are reconciled to the swirling adventures that transpire around them, there is a resolution. A rebirth of sorts occurs for each character as they realize that they must take conflicting ideologies and mesh them together to form individual voices.

Works Cited

Ansa, Tina McElroy. Interview with Tina McElroy Ansa by Doubleday. Book Group Corner. accessed 30 Oct. 2000.

Callahan, John F. In the African-American Grain: The Pursuit of Voice in Twentieth-Century Black Fiction. University of Illinois Press: Urbana and Chicago. 1988.

Neufeldt, Victoria, ed. Webster's New World Compact School and Office Dictionary. 1 vol. to date. MacMillan: USA. 1995.

Wood, Scott. "Book Reviews: 'Bless Me Ultima.'" Contemporary Literary Criticism. vol. 23 (1983): 22.
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