Thu 30 Nov 2006
In Juan Francisco Manzano’s The Autobiography of a Slave he not only related the tales of slave, but presented many powerful ideas about the world and times he lived in. There are two very important ideas that stuck out to me when reading this autobiography. One was the fact that the women of this time were very powerful. The other was the extreme issues of race. The power of these women went beyond the mere fact that they were slave owners. They exerted power over not only their slaves, but the men in their lives as well. Some of his mistresses would lock him up at their whim for countless hours without food. Others would order their other men slaves to lock him up in the stocks for the night after the slightest offenses. Even when the husbands of the mistresses attempted to give him food, the mistress would exert her dominance over the husband and not allow these things to happen. As far as race issues were concerned, in this time they were of the utmost importance. Every description was laced with the words “mulato”, “black,” or “creole.” One’s race determined their status. Even amongst the slaves racism existed. The slave’s mother would, “…take care that I did not mix with the other black children.” This is a prime example of how severe the race issues were at this time. Juan Francisco Manzano effectively told a story of a slave in Cuba, while also incorporating important social issues of the time.