A Comparison of Bless Me Ultima and The House on Mango Street Essay

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Exploring Syncretism in Bless Me Ultima and The House on Mango Street

      Syncretism is the fine line between Christianity and Native American Religions because it is the ambivalent, simultaneous attraction of choice and identification to the influences of two or more religious belief systems. Syncretism is most common among minority groups such as Hispanics. The definition applied to their unique position of culture is brought about by the Native American and Spanish ancestry. Ambivalence is shown even by the word Hispanic, which is an "umbrella" term. The novels, Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me Ultima(1972) and Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street(1984) explore syncretism and how it enhances and exemplifies the issue of ambivalent behavior in regards to the combined use of Native and Christian religions.

In Bless Me Ultima and The House on Mango Street, syncretism is displayed through the actions of both novels to show that syncretism is the "bridge" of ambivalence. Syncretism in context of Anaya and Cisneros' novels, merge Christianity and Native American pagan religions to form the syncretic nature of ambivalent Hispanic Americans. There are several main points in each text that exhibit the issue of syncretism. These points or issues include the "Christ-like" comparison, the witchcraft comparison, and the comparison of pagan religions of superstition and sorcery. The concept of good and evil revealed in the two Hispanic novels through the mixture of Christianity and Native religions is a type of syncretism created by folk Catholicism. According to Ellwin Stoddard's Mexican Americans, the concept of folk Catholicism, "is driven on the idea that the formal sphere of the Catholic church is blended with the Native ...

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...on, folk Catholicism. In consequence, Hispanics have in a sense walked a fine line of ambivalence in relation to syncretic religious practices.

Works Cited

Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me Ultima. New York: Warner Books, 2002.

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Random House, 2006.

Dictionary of Hispanic Biography. "Rudolfo Anaya" Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

Penguin Dictionary of Religions, ed. John R. Hiumells. 2004.

Stoddard, Ellwin R. Mexican Americans. New York: Random House, 1973.

The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd.ed., v.1. "The History of the Miraculous Apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531.Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Wiget, Andrew O., "Native American Oral Narrative" in The Heath Anthology of American Literature 3rd ed., v.1. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. 24-27.


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