God! Why did Lupito die? Why do you allow the evil of the Trementinas? Why did you allow Narciso to be murdered when he was doing good? . . . A thousand questions pushed through my mind, but the Voice within me did not answer. . . . The mass was ending, the fleeting mystery was already vanishing.
This quotation from Chapter 19 depicts Antonio’s first Communion. The ceremony contrasts sharply with Antonio’s experience with the golden carp in Chapter 11. When Antonio sees the carp, he witnesses something elemental, magical, and miraculous without much effort and without immediately understanding its intellectual consequences. At his first Communion, Antonio attempts to experience a similar epiphany, but he tries so hard and is so full of questions and anxiety that nothing happens, and he is left disappointed. Antonio’s immediate, aggressive questioning of God, which begins as soon as he swallows the Communion wafer, is indicative of the impact of his moral quandaries—he is so anxious to discover the answers to his questions that he attempts to shout God down from heaven to ask him. His failure to find God is a further indication of the limitations of Catholicism, or indeed of any single religious system, to provide the answers to all of life’s questions. Antonio must learn to draw his own conclusions and to think for himself. He must learn to live in a world in which Catholicism and the golden carp can coexist, and he must grow to impart knowledge and enlightenment from all the spiritual forces in his life.