Antonio ultimately learns that he is able to accept elements of every culture when he creates his own identity and follows his own path to adulthood. Ultima assures him that not every type of faith is mutually exclusive, and Antonio is able to use the same lesson in dealing with the conflicting cultures in his life.
Near the end of the novel, Anaya explains that the goodness of a person is determined solely by his or her actions. Within this framework, Ultima still possesses much more "good" in her nature than Tenorio does. However, it is clear that good and evil cannot be distinguished in a clear-cut way, and this is one of the more important lessons that Antonio learns about life.
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On the way home from school, Antonio is confronted by an enraged Tenorio. The second of Tenorio’s three daughters is now dying, and Tenorio swears that he will kill Ultima. Tenorio leaves without hurting him, and Antonio quickly runs home to tell Ultima what has happened. Ultima reassures Antonio that she is prepared for her enemy and that Tenorio will not be able to ambush her as easily as he did Narciso.
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Antonio’s fight with his classmates demonstrates another example of the mob mentality that Antonio is beginning to understand. Just as Tenorio’s mob was eager to accuse Ultima of being a witch, Antonio’s classmates quickly band together to taunt Antonio about Ultima. With each additional conflict of ideas that Antonio faces, he becomes more and more aware of the numerous perspectives that shape the truth in the world. Although Antonio’s friends still believe that Ultima is a witch, his willingness to fight his friends in her defense convinces them to leave him alone. Anaya introduces the farce of the Christmas pageant to provide some comic relief. This scene is one of the few comic moments in the novel, and it provides the readers with some insight into the less traumatic life experiences that also make up Antonio’s development.
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After Antonio recovers, he spends most of his Christmas vacation listening to Ultima’s stories and reciting his catechism in Spanish and English with his mother. Eugene and Leon visit the family during Christmas vacation after being brought home in a police car; while they were driving from Las Vegas, they totaled their car and were forced to burn it to stay warm. Eugene, Leon and Andrew spend the evening playing pool in town, and Antonio’s father feels increasing bitterness about the wandering Marez blood in his sons. Even though Eugene and Leon are back, Gabriel knows that they will soon leave again. The following day, Leon and Eugene leave for Santa Fe, this time taking Andrew with them.