Thu 30 Nov 2006
It becomes obvious, in reading the slave narrative of Juan Francisco Manzano, that he greatly values his childhood upbringing. The first several pages of his autobiography go into great detail about his place of origin, as well as how and by whom he was raised. For example, in the very first paragraph, Manzano describes the kindness of his first master, Dona Beatriz de Justiz, and explains that she took it upon herself to educate her slaves, and even go as far as to grant some of them their freedom. He then points out that his mother was one of Dona Beatriz’s favorite slaves, and that she was “singled out” for training and education. The phrase “singled out” implies that she was chosen, and was therefore better than other slaves at that time. This part of the text is the first of many instances in which Manzano separates himself from other slaves. At a later point in his life, Manzano describes a situation in which Dona Joaquina, on of his many masters, took it upon herself to make sure that he did not “mix with the other black children.” The fact that he noted this implies that Manzano saw himself not as a part of the black race or the slave community, but above it. This in part, is due to his posh upbringing in the house of Dona Beatriz de Justiz, and his attending of plays, memorization of poems and Bible passages, etc. It is apparent that Manzano not only values the things that he learned as a child, but also views himself as superior because of them.