In the past, prior to acculturation (and this is an important point to recognize), while still outside the norms established for women by the male discourse, the curandera could be allowed to hold power within the social structure of Chicano society.
As the novel progresses, whenever Ultima functions in her role as curandera using her powers, she is accompanied by Antonio, and therein lies Ultima's containment.
And within the conflict Ultima will serve as the catalyst for her own downfall as curandera in the protection of men.
AC: I studied with curanderas in both familiar and foreign cultures.
Amanda learns from plants, curanderas, and physicians around the world.
Some of the curanderas I have studied with aren't even sure how to spell that word, and many of them have been in Celtic cultures Welsh wise women, whose second language was English, have shown me their gardens and their recipes, handed down through families for hundreds and hundreds of years.
In books for the young adult, Bless Me Ultima tells of Ultima, a curandera who lives with the family.
In Family Pictures/Cuadros de familia (15 Anniversary Edition), the reader can examine art depicting attending a fair, helping a grandmother do chores, killing a chicken for dinner, celebrating a birthday party, participating in a cakewalk, picking nopal cactus, observing a hammerhead shark on the beach, acting out the story of Mary and Joseph when they were seeking shelter at the Inn (the custom of Las Posadas), making tamales, celebrating the fifteenth birthday (Quinceanera), the use of a curandera (healer), and other scenes.
And, while even a curandera couldn't know exactly what the future holds, the signs for this border town are, as they say, favorable -- at least as long as there's plenty of cheap Mexican labor to keep down the cost of living .
And El Guero just happened to be a client of Dora's curandera, Maria Mercedes Martinez.