Anaya uses dichotomy and motifs throughout the book for three reasons, to convey a sense of extremity of the decisions that Tony has to choose between define his life, in addition archetypes play a big part in the novel, and lastly to show the prominence and regularity of certain themes and concepts of Tony’s life.
One intention of Anaya’s use of dichotomy was to express an indication of the wide range of possibilities that could happen from a situation. These extremes oppose each other in such a way that it appears that they are almost ‘attacking’ each other. This ongoing war between two aspects of the novel illustrates a certain idea of conflict not only within Tony but also within this town he lives in and the relationships between the people Toni comes across. These opposing ideas also show how Tony has to choose between the two sides and how they are the very outlines of his life. Anaya uses dichotomy to reveal the predicaments and choices that Tony has to decide between throughout his childhood and adolescence years. These decisions that Tony had to choose between are some of the biggest dichotomy themes throughout the book. Some examples of these dichotomies include Tony’s mother and father arguing about whether he is to become a priest or a farmer. Another is when he is at school, how the kids mostly speak English and he only knows Spanish. The biggest dichotomy Anaya uses is the golden carp vs. Catholicism. This ongoing religious war inside of Tony is one that defines who he is through the rest of his life. “If the golden carp was a god, who was the man on the cross? The Virgin? Was my mother praying to the wrong God?” (Anaya, 81) This quote is the first time Tony considers how this story of the golden carp goes against everything he believes in with the Virgin Mary. This is a big turning point in Tony’s coming of age because it characterizes how he is growing up and maybe getting his own opinions on the things he sees and hears.
Secondly, archetypes are the main ideas of the book. Two examples include Tony as the young boy hero who has a quest and Ultima as the healing motherly figure who guides Tony along his quest. Tony begins in the book with all of his innocence and all the ideas that his parents gave him but when Ultima comes along, he grows up and matures very rapidly with Ultima keeping a watchful eye over him. Throughout the book Tony faces many problems that Ultima helps