Antonio spends much of the book questioning everything—from his place in the world to the existence and meaning of God. Or would God forgive him and grant him Purgatory, the lonely resting place of those who were neither saved nor damned" 3.
Cico tells him the Carp will arrive this day. Antonio thinks of the silence of God at communion. God had not been able to cure Lucas or free the Tellez family from the curse. Yet God would send people to hell or heaven when they died.
Cico says he goes to church to please his mother. Cico says they would kill it because the god of the church is a jealous god.
Antonio wonders what will happen if he becomes a priest. At that moment the golden carp appears. Antonio is in awe of it and thinks it is truly a god.
They are both filled with rapture. He thinks the golden carp makes the world peaceful. He tells Cico they should now tell Florence. Cico agrees that Florence is ready. He says Florence will not have to choose between gods. Antonio is happy that they will be telling Florence. He thinks then they might tell Jason and others.
They tell Antonio and Cico that Florence is under the water. He had dived and had never come back up. Antonio sends Abel to get help. His eyes are open and have a white film over them. They pull the body to the surface and get it on shore. They find a red mark on the forehead where he must have hit bottom.
They find wire around one of his arms. The life guards arrive and begin trying to resuscitate Florence.
Antonio looks up and sees two hawks circling overhead as they ride the warm air currents. Antonio leaves the crowd of people and runs. He goes to the river and wades across it. He feels sad when he hears the church bells begin to toll. Notes The characteristics of the golden carp are further explained in this chapter.
Cico tells Antonio that the golden carp represents the celebration of the here and now. Cico thinks of the Christina God as a distant god, brought from foreign lands and found in the stars when the people already had plenty of gods in their own back yards.
The golden carp is also not a god of punishment. He is only a god of peace. A third element of the golden carp is that it is a god which does not make a division between the sacred and the profane.
Just as Antonio finds the golden carp and resolves in some sense at least to act as its priest in bringing his friend Florence to it, he finds Florence has died.
Perhaps with this linkage, Anaya is suggesting that the mystery of death happens no matter what god one believes in.He hears the mermaid and sees the golden carp. Waiting for the appearance of the Virgen de Guadalupe, he sees his mother, who says that those baptized in the holy water of the moon are saved.
Gabriel, however, says that Antonio was baptized in the salt water of the sea, which links him to the pagan god, the golden carp. Antonio’s mother, a devoutly Catholic woman, is determined to make Antonio into a priest and is set in conflict with Antonio’s father, who worships the earth and the sky as a true vaquero.
The character of Florence is also extremely significant in emphasizing this conflict between religion and paganism. Each parent has deeply rooted cultural convictions.
Next is the conflict within his town between its Spanish and indigenous cultures. We see evidence of this conflict in the pronounced tension between Ultima’s mystical folklore and the Catholic church. Another conflict takes place at Antonio’s school between Spanish and English speakers. In the novel Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, María, Gabriel, and Ultima shape Antonio, creating internal conflict, pressure, independence, and strength.
The conflicting dreams of Gabriel and Maria, along with a crisis of faith, create Antonio’s internal conflict, which Ultima and Gabriel help resolve. Cico offers to take Antonio to see the golden carp.
After confirming that Antonio has never fished for a carp, Cico asks Antonio if he believes the golden carp is a god. Crestfallen, Antonio replies that he cannot believe in any god except the god of his church because he is a Catholic.
The golden carp is supposedly a god sent to guide the other carp, who were once ancient people who sinned. Tony can actually see the carp and feel a sense of enlightenment, as opposed to the seeming ineffectiveness of the Christian God.