In society, adults and children alike are told they must carry on the family name, but today, more now than ever, there are more and more people carrying two family names on their backs. The most notable culture to carry double surnames is the hispanic culture where a child will take their both father’s and mother’s surname, often adding an y (and) between the two names. For most hispanic children, their last names are equal parts of their identity and they feel no burden in carrying the names. Though, for some children carrying two names can be tough because they may be taught to believe that one family name is more important than the other. In the book Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya uses the characterization of Antonio Márez y Luna (Tony) to illustrate that when a part of identity is often overlooked, it will strengthen and eventually come back in abruptly.
Tony is often told that his mother’s family (Luna) is more important than his father’s family (Márez), the Márez name often neglected by everyone in his family, excluding Tony’s father. For instance, after witnessing the death of Lupito, a World War II veteran who lived in Tony’s town, Tony returns home in hopes that no one had noticed his absence; once he is laying safe in his bed, Tony dreams of his brother’s return home where he says, “We must all gather around our father, I heard myself say. His dream is to ride westward in search of new adventure… and we must travel that road with him. My brothers frowned. You are a Luna, they chanted in unison, you are to be a farmer-priest for mother!” (Anaya 26). Tony tells his brothers that they all must support his father, but he is quickly shut down and told that he cannot help his father without hurting his mother. Tony is told to prioritize his mother’s dream by living up to her family name and become a priest; rather than defending his father, Tony listens to his brothers’ words and chooses not to stick up for the Márez name. Furthermore, on the morning of Tony’s first day of school, he sits down to eat, listening to his mother shush Theresa, his sister, as she cries about him going to school, “‘Hush! He shall be a scholar,’ my mother smiled and served me first. I tried to eat but the food stuck to the roof of my mouth. ‘Remember you are a Luna-’ ‘And a Márez,’ my father interrupted her” (53). Tony spends most of his life listening to his mother speak of how he will become a priest without objections; however, this time when she shares this dream she tries to alienate Tony from his Márez heritage. Tony watches idly as his father protects his son’s other name, trying to remind him that he is a Márez first, even if he does become a priest. not wanting Tony to forget that he is also Márez, even if he becomes a priest. Anytime the Márez name is held in comparison to the Luna name, it is often defaced or written off by others; Tony is repeatedly told that the Luna name is the priority and that Márez should be an afterthought.
As Tony’s schooling advances, his family sees his studies as a way to reinforce the Luna family agenda; though, the Márez still thrives in Tony. Additionally, months later, Tony’s brothers return from the war, yet they are restless to leave again; while discussing their departure amongst themselves, they become trouble by their parents’ dreams but quickly soothing their worries with the fact that, “‘And, they still have Tony,’ Gene said and looked at me. ‘Tony will be her priest,’ he laughed. ‘Tony will be her farmer,’ León added. ‘And her dream will be complete and we will be free!’ Gene shouted. ‘Yahooooooo!’ They jumped and shouted with joy… ‘What’da yah say, Tony, you goin’ be her priest!’ ‘Bless us, Tony!’” (68). Again, the only part of Tony that another person recognizes is his Luna identity. Tony lets his brothers say that all that matters is that he fulfills his mother’s dream; Tony is told that his Márez blood doesn’t matter for he is a Luna and he will follow the Luna dream of becoming a priest. Finally, years later, Tony spends the summer working in the fields with his mother’s brothers; as the return to his home nears, Tony’s uncle, Pedro, tells Tony that he is proud that Tony does well in school and that, “‘It has been a long time since there was an educated Luna, a man of the people,’ he nodded and pondered. ‘I am Márez,’ I answered. I did not know why I said it, but it surprised him a little. ‘Wha-‘ Then he smiled. ‘That is right, you are Márez first, then Luna’” (250). After all the time Tony has spent being told that he is a Luna and that he has a dream to live up to, Tony finally stands up for the other part of his identity. Tony’s sudden reminder that he is Márez takes his uncle by surprise, yet he is accepting of Tony’s remark for he has always been a Márez first. Tony grasps the moment to make another recognize that he is more than his mother’s son; this bold move comes as a surprise, yet, it is accepted, for Tony has always been a Marez and a Luna.
The suppression of a piece of a person’s identity will only cause it to resurface with clout. In Tony’s life he is told by people he cares for that he is to grow up and become a Luna boy; Tony is told to abandon his Márez blood in order to satisfy the Luna dream. As the Márez blood is continually pushed aside, Tony realizes that he cannot forget that he is just as much Márez as he is Luna. Whether or not Tony should ride westward with the Márez or become a Luna priest, that is for him to decide, but for Tony, just like millions of others, carrying the weight of two names only makes him stronger.