I think that the most important change that Antonio undergoes in Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima is maturation. He leaves his childhood behind and becomes a man. I don’t think that it is important that he actually becomes a man in the eyes of society or the world at large but rather that he becomes a man in his own eyes. He notices the change by stating that, “It was the first time I had ever spoken to my mother as a man.” Here, he realizes that he’s no longer a child. One of the things that facilitates this process is his ability to listen to himself. Antonio is no longer torn between what others wish for him but begins to consider his own wishes and what he wants for himself. This is what every adult needs to do and this power comes with a lot of responsibility. Therefore, it is indicative of manhood (or adulthood in general).
Novels should only be criticized on their effectiveness as works of fiction. It is not fair to impart the character’s views on to the author because once the work is created the character is separate from the author. This is a problem that Flaubert and many other writers have encountered and assuming that a work of fiction is a criticism of a race, a religion, etc is a great disservice to literature. A derogatory Jewish character is not proof that the author is anti-Semitic. The author might just want to create a Jewish character and explore his bad qualities. The same is true of portrayals of Christians/Christianity. An individual who happens to be a good Catholic should not be offended by depictions of bad people who happen to be Catholic and depictions of bad people who happen to be Catholic does not mean that the novel at large is anti-catholic. (I would argue that no novel is anti-anything, only the characters are).