The novel is often vulnerable to criticism due to the allegation that it presents the “curanderismo” in a sacred light, which is against the belief and dignity of Christianity. But the criticism was directed by non-literary figures and was refuted on the ground that the notion of “curandera” is not unfamiliar in Mexican tradition and her magic is not evil or malign but is for the welfare of human beings in which she practices magic which is harmless and “knew herbs and remedies” of diseases (Anaya 4). The curandera’s ways of life are in contrast with that of Antonio’s mother who is a Catholic. Ultima is considered a “bruja” by people in the town (Anaya, 102).
Curanderismo is a religious practice carried out in Latin American folk medicine. Curanderismo is a collection of conventional viewpoints, rites, and observations that deal with the corporeal, religious, emotional, and communal requirements of the citizens who make use of it. Ultima, is an aged curandera (healer who practices curanderismo), trained by el Volaré, the flying man from las Pasturas. Ultima is a friend of Antonio’s mother, Maria Luna. In her old age, she is left behind in a village that has lost many members through the war and economic migration. The Márez y Luna family invites Ultima to stay with them. Ultima is loved by a faithful few whom she helped in the past, especially Maria and Narcisco. She is also the object of community mistrust. Even many of those she once healed, including Maria’s brothers, the Lunas, refuse to oppose those who seek to harm her.
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