Wed 29 Nov 2006
In reading Juan Francisco Manzano’s “Autobiography of a Slave”, it was interesting to see the change in Manzano’s character from a joyful vivacious boy to a melancholy, lifeless form which affected him both physically and emotionally. This occurred through many changes of masters and mistresses throughout Manzano’s childhood. Manzano had a good life in his early childhood growing alongside his first mistress, the Marchioness de Justiz who held Manzano in her arms more than his mother. He describes himself as a mischievous child who did not get punished for anything. “ I spent my time getting into all kinds of mischief, but was seen in a better light than I deserved.” Manzano was never even beat as a child, and nobody even dared to. Manzano’s life drastically changed when his mistress died. He was under the care of another mistress, however by the age of fourteen, his life became fearful and horrid. “For the least childish mischief, I was locked up for twenty-four hours in a coal cellar without floorboards and nothing to cover myself.” He was not given anything to eat either. Such a transformation of physical treatment led to the emotional damage of Manzano’s personality. “From the age of thirteen to fourteen, the joy and vivacity of my character and the eloquence of my lips, dubbed the ‘golden beak’, all changed completely into a certain kind of melancholy that, with time, became a personal trait of mine.” Manzano claims that with worse and worse treatment, he became more taciturn and melancholy.