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Antonio, a boy who is the son of people from two different traditions within Mexican-American heritage: the farming Lunas and the vaquero Márezes.
The fact that there is more than one god in the protagonist's heritage. In order to reconcile himself to his heritage, he must find a way to bring all of his competing religious deities into harmony with one another.
The climax occurs during Antonio’s first communion. He has been told that he will gain understanding when he takes communion, but he does not. He doesn’t feel any communication from the Catholic God. He responds by going toward the god of the river, the golden carp, since it is a god that doesn’t punish, but only brings peace and beauty to the world.
Ultima dies and Antonio is left to find his own way. He has been fully prepared for this event and seems sure of himself as a spiritual person.