Skip to main content


Chicano fiction serves as a rich outlet for people of Mexican-American descent to explore, embrace, and commentate on their history and culture. Perhaps the most famous work of Chicano fiction is Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima. Through the eyes of its young protagonist, Antonio, Bless Me, Ultima tackles themes of gender and masculinity against the backdrop of the borderlands—particularly the toxic and often violent form of masculinity portrayed by the male characters. Though there is abundant literature on the expression of gender within the story, less is understood about how these masculine roles develop. In this paper, I analyze the sociocultural elements of the novel through the framework of hegemonic masculinity and gender performativity to determine the root of the dominant gender script. Furthermore, I analyze the character of Antonio to determine how he ultimately takes a different path. I argue that, through consolidating Western and indigenous elements of borderlands culture, Antonio escapes the dominant gender script while still remaining true to his Chicano identity. Bless Me, Ultima meditates on the toxic gender roles that become pervasive within a culture, but the message is not without hope—through Antonio, the author shows that, by understanding how gender roles within a community form, we can forge our own path while remaining true to our identity.

Key words: Chicano literature, borderlands, hegemonic masculinity, gender performativity, masculinity and gender issues

Part of pre-organized panel: "Latinx Literature and Culture Production along the US-Mexico Border."


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • Modern & Classical Languages

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
  • Event date
    • 26 March 2021

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Joshua D. Martin