In this essay “Spanish Slavery” the author will examine the circumstances in which colonial subjects lived under the oppressive frameworks of their plantation economies as slave labor and had to undergo extreme cruelty and hardships…
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Despite being a slave, he wrote between the lines of domination while being concurrent with the prevailing circumstances. He did this with the objective of creating a 19th century alternative image of Spanish Caribbean societies that needed further critical perspectives and considerations. In this essay, I will compare Manzano with the figure of the Count in The Last Supper, in holding that despite the varying positions the two characters occupied in their respective settings, religion was a dominating factor in crystallizing their respective personalities in the context of what they delivered. The argument will be made very clear by analyzing their respective approaches towards religion and how they used religion in achieving their ends. Main Body The film, The Last Supper, directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea (1976), depicts that in a rather imprudent attempt to add to the knowledge of his African slaves, the Count, who is pious as well as guilt ridden, asks twelve chosen slaves to have dinner with him on a Maundy Thursday during Easter, obviously with the intention of re-enacting the Last Supper with himself performing the role of Christ. As they are involved in eating and drinking, the Count feeds the slaves with a lot of religious oratory and tries to guide them about the tenets of Christianity. He proposes to give them an off the next day, which is Good Friday and pledges that he will free one amongst them. But he does not meet up with his commitment the next day and the slaves stage a revolt. Both, the Last Supper as well as Juan Francis Manzano’s autobiography relate to the lives of slaves in Cuban sugar plantations during the late eighteenth century and are real life stories. The film’s center piece is the bizarre circumstances under which the last supper is supervised by the Count. In keeping with a truly religious fervor, he starts by washing and kissing all the slaves’ feet as each one of them is intensely amused at the mad behavior. However, the film depicts that despite the occasional religious sentiments exhibited by the Count, who is the dominating character, he can be easily seen as an authority figure that is guilt ridden and immensely mysterious. It becomes evident from the film that the truth relative to human behaviors cannot be hidden and eventually surfaces with the actions of individuals. It appears the count is attempting to demonstrate to the slaves, his knowledge and adherence to Christian dogmas and beliefs. In this process, he clearly gives away his lack of clarity about Christianity when he tells the slaves that sorrow is the only thing that humans can happily give to God, adding that anyway, everything belongs to God. The slaves get confused and are absorbed at the thought of what he implies when he speaks about consuming Christ’s body and blood in the forms of bread and wine. Following the rebellion by the slaves, the film ironically depicts that the Count himself gets crucified as an unlikely son of God for denying justice and property to the slaves. Autobiography of a Slave is a first hand account of Juan Francisco Manzano’s life, times and struggles. Monzano has narrated his story from a first person perception.
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